Interleukin 15 as a promising candidate for tumor immunotherapy

Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2011 Apr;22(2):99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 Apr 29.


Interleukin 15 participates in the development of important immune antitumor mechanisms. It activates CD8(+) T cells, natural killer (NK) cells, NK T cells, and can promote the formation of antitumor antibodies. IL-15 can also protect T effector cells from the action of T regulatory cells and reverse tolerance to tumor-associated antigens. In pre-clinical studies IL-15 has been found to demonstrate potentiated antitumor effects following pre-association with IL-15Rα, or when used in combination with chemotherapy, adoptive therapy, monoclonal antibodies, and tumor vaccines. Although a clinical trial based on application of IL-15 in tumor patients has already begun, it is important to be aware of its potential side effects, including induction of autoimmunity and promotion of proliferation, survival, and dissemination of some tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Interleukin-15 / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-15 / physiology
  • Interleukin-15 / therapeutic use*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Interleukin-15