Interleukin-27 (IL-27) is a cytokine with strikingly diverse influences on the immune response. Although it was initially linked with the development of Th1 responses, it is now recognized as a potent antagonist of different classes of inflammation through its ability to directly modify CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell effector functions, to induce IL-10, and to promote specialized T regulatory cell responses. Although this aspect of IL-27 biology has provided insights into how the immune system prevents hyperactivity in the setting of infectious and autoimmune inflammation, in vaccination and cancer models the stimulatory effects of IL-27 on CD8(+) T cell function appear prominent. Additionally, associations between IL-27 and antibody-mediated disease have led to an interest in defining the impact of IL-27 on innate immunity and humoral responses in different disease states. The maturation of this literature has been accompanied by attempts to translate these findings from experimental models into human diseases and by efforts to define where IL-27 might represent a viable therapeutic target.
Keywords: IL-10; IL-17; autoimmunity; infectious disease; inflammation.