Interleukin 10 in the tumor microenvironment: a target for anticancer immunotherapy

Immunol Res. 2011 Dec;51(2-3):170-82. doi: 10.1007/s12026-011-8262-6.


IL-10 is an immunomodulatory cytokine that is frequently upregulated in various types of cancer. The biological role of IL-10 in cancer is quite complex; however, the presence of IL-10 in advanced metastases and the positive correlation between serum IL-10 levels and progression of disease indicates a critical role of IL-10 in the tumor microenvironment. IL-10 has been shown to directly affect the function of antigen-presenting cells by inhibiting the expression of MHC and costimulatory molecules, which in turn induces immune suppression or tolerance. Additionally, IL-10 downregulates the expression of Th1 cytokines and induces T-regulatory responses. Taken together, a combination of IL-10 antagonism and immunostimulatory treatments such as cancer vaccines, Toll-like receptor agonists, Th1 cytokines, and chemokines would be a logical approach to enhance an antitumor immune response.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interleukin-10 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Interleukin-10