Immunobiology of interleukin-12

Immunol Res. 1998;17(1-2):269-78. doi: 10.1007/BF02786451.


Interleukin-12 (IL12) is a heterodimeric cytokine which is produced by phagocytic cells and antigen-presenting cells within a few hours of infection, particularly in the case of bacteria and intracellular parasites, and acts as a proinflammatory cytokine, activating natural killer (NK) cells, and, through its ability to induce interferon-gamma(IFN gamma) production, enhancing the phagocytic and bacteriocidal activity of phagocytic cells and their ability to release proinflammatory cytokines, including IL12 itself. Furthermore, IL12 produced during the early phases of infection and inflammation, sets the stage for the ensuing antigen-specific immune response, favoring differentiation and function of T helper type 1 (Th1) T cells while inhibiting the differentiation of Th2 T cells. Thus, IL12, in addition to being a potent proinflammatory cytokine, is a key immunoregulator molecule in Th1 responses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology


  • Interleukin-12