Interleukin-2 (IL-2) augments host cellular immune reactivity in the perioperative period in patients with malignant disease

Eur J Surg Oncol. 1995 Feb;21(1):16-22. doi: 10.1016/s0748-7983(05)80061-7.


Major surgery impairs cellular and humoral immunity, in particular natural cytotoxicity, and this may facilitate the dissemination of tumour cells in the peri-operative period. Recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2) has been used to modulate peri-operative immune function. Eighteen patients were randomized to receive either rIL-2 or placebo for three days, as a subcutaneous injection, prior to surgical resection for colorectal cancer. Natural cytotoxicity (natural killer (NK) and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cell activity), monocyte phagocytosis and immune cell surface activation marker (CD14+HLA-DR) expression were assessed during therapy and for up to 21 days after surgery. rIL-2 therapy enhanced both NK and LAK cell-mediated cytotoxicity and augmented circulating lymphocyte CD16+ and CD56+ cell subset populations. Circulating monocyte phagocytosis was also increased. Hence, rIL-2 may be used to enhance immune function in the peri-operative period in patients undergoing curative cancer surgery.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / drug effects
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • HLA-DR Antigens / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Interleukin-2 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use*
  • Interleukin-8 / blood
  • Killer Cells, Lymphokine-Activated / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-8
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Recombinant Proteins