Recombinant interleukin-2

Pharmacotherapy. 1994 Nov-Dec;14(6):635-56.


Recombinant interleukin (IL)-2 is a newly approved immunoregulatory protein produced by lymphocytes that exhibits a wide range of immunologic effects. It is a true biologic response modifier in that is has no known direct antitumor activity, but mediates its cytotoxicity through activation of effector cells including T cells, natural killer cells, and lymphokine-activated killer cells. Recombinant IL-2 has demonstrated activity in patients with renal cell carcinoma and melanoma, with objective response rates of approximately 15-20%. The median duration of response in renal cell carcinoma is 23 months. Toxicity experienced with high-dose IL-2 can be significant. The most common dose-limiting toxicities are hypertension, weight gain, oliguria, respiratory insufficiency, and neurotoxicity. These effects are generally manageable and reversible on discontinuation of therapy. Administration of low-dose IL-2 has emerged as a means of substantially reducing toxicity. At least in renal cell carcinoma, it appears that the response rate to low-dose IL-2 is comparable to that with higher dosages.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Interleukin-2 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-2 / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology*
  • Killer Cells, Lymphokine-Activated / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology


  • Interleukin-2
  • Recombinant Proteins