Interleukin-2 and leukemia

Leukemia. 1998 Nov;12(11):1671-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2401199.


Leukemia has been treated with chemotherapy for the past 40 years with only moderate success. A growing body of evidence suggests that by augmenting the immune system more effective results may be obtained. This is highlighted by T cell reinfusions resulting in durable remissions in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia who have relapsed after an allogeneic transplant. Interleukin-2 is the primary growth factor for T lymphocytes and is a stimulator of natural killer cell activity. It has now been shown that a limited number of otherwise refractory leukemias can be effectively treated with interleukin-2. However, there remains a lack of correlation between the biologic and clinical effects of interleukin-2. The clinical activity of interleukin-2 appears to be greatest in myeloid leukemias. A variety of dose schedules and routes of administration make it difficult to determine if interleukin-2 given to patients in clinical remission is of benefit. Large randomized studies are necessary to explore the role of interleukin-2 in leukemia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use*
  • Leukemia / therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / therapy*
  • Remission Induction


  • Interleukin-2