Interleukin 12: still a promising candidate for tumor immunotherapy?

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2014 May;63(5):419-35. doi: 10.1007/s00262-014-1523-1. Epub 2014 Feb 11.


Interleukin 12 (IL-12) seemed to represent the ideal candidate for tumor immunotherapy, due to its ability to activate both innate (NK cells) and adaptive (cytotoxic T lymphocytes) immunities. However, despite encouraging results in animal models, very modest antitumor effects of IL-12 in early clinical trials, often accompanied by unacceptable levels of adverse events, markedly dampened hopes of the successful use of this cytokine in cancer patients. Recently, several clinical studies have been initiated in which IL-12 is applied as an adjuvant in cancer vaccines, in gene therapy including locoregional injections of IL-12 plasmid and in the form of tumor-targeting immunocytokines (IL-12 fused to monoclonal antibodies). The near future will show whether this renewed interest in the use of IL-12 in oncology will result in meaningful therapeutic effects in a select group of cancer patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interleukin-12 / immunology
  • Interleukin-12 / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Interleukin-12