Current status of interleukin-10 and regulatory T-cells in cancer

Curr Opin Oncol. 2013 Nov;25(6):637-45. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000006.


Purpose of review: Tumor growth elicits antigen-specific cytotoxic as well as immune suppressive responses. Interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a key immune-suppressive cytokine produced by regulatory T-cells and by helper T-cells. Here, we review pleiotropic functions of IL-10 that impact the immune pathology of cancer.

Recent findings: The role of IL-10 in cancer has become less certain with the knowledge of its immune stimulatory functions. IL-10 is needed for T-helper cell functions, T-cell immune surveillance, and suppression of cancer-associated inflammation. By promoting tumor-specific immune surveillance and hindering pathogenic inflammation, IL-10 is emerging as a key cytokine in the battle of the host against cancer.

Summary: IL-10 functions at the cross-roads of immune stimulation and immune suppression in cancer. Immunological mechanisms of action of IL-10 can be ultimately exploited to develop novel and effective cancer therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-10 / therapeutic use
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Interleukin-10