Interleukin-18: Biology and role in the immunotherapy of cancer

S. Srivastava, N. Salim, M. J. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is an immunostimulatory cytokine belonging to the IL-1 family. IL-18 can regulate both innate and adaptive immune responses through its effects on natural killer (NK) cells, monocytes, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells. IL-18 acts synergistically with other pro-inflammatory cytokines to promote interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production by NK cells, T cells, and possibly other cell types. Systemic administration of IL-18 has been shown to have significant antitumor activity in several preclinical animal models. Phase I clinical trials of recombinant human IL-18 have demon- strated that it can be safely administered to patients with advanced cancer. Biologic effects of IL-18 therapy include acti- vation of monocytes, NK cells, and T cells and production of IFN-γ as well as other cytokines in vivo. A phase II study of IL-18 in patients with metastatic melanoma confirmed its safety but suggested limited efficacy of IL-18 monotherapy in this setting. IL-18 appears to act predominantly as a costimulatory cytokine and its optimal use for cancer immunotherapy may be in combination with other immunostimulatory cytokines, vaccines, or monoclonal antibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3353-3357
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Cytokine
  • Immunotherapy
  • Interferon-γ
  • Natural killer cell
  • Rituximab
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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