Anticancer Properties of the IL-12 Family - Focus on Colorectal Cancer

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The prominent role of interleukin (IL)-12 in inflammatory responses, especially in TH1 T cell differentiation, is well established. Moreover, in murine models of tumorigenesis, IL-12 displays remarkable antitumor properties that are mainly mediated by interferon (IFN)-γ secretion by CD4+, CD8+ T cells, natural killer (NK) or NK-T cells. Importantly, IL-12 through IFN-γ-dependent induction of the antiangiogenic factors interferon-inducible protein (IP) 10 and monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG) contributes to tumor eradication. Recently, the structurally similar but functionally different cytokines IL-23 and IL-27 were discovered and related to the IL-12 family of cytokines. Each of those cytokines has its own specific effects on tumor growth. Similarly to IL12p70, antitumor effects of IL-27 are mediated via the IFNγ- IP10/MIG-axis and tumor-specific increase of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity. Additionally, IL-27 itself may mimic the function of IFN-γ due to the similarity in usage of JAK/STAT signalling molecules such as STAT1. The role of IL-23 in tumor growth to date is controversial. Whether IL-23 acts pro- or anticancerogenic seems to depend on a critical balance of STAT3 signalling in both the tumor and the immune cellular microenvironment of the tumor.

At least for solid tumors the promising results from preclinical studies of systemic and on-site IL-12-based therapy did not prevail in clinical studies. In future combinatorial approaches using IL-12 together with other cytokines or antiangiogenic molecules have to be evaluated. This review focuses on anticancer effects of the IL-12 family in preclinical and clinical studies with an emphasis on colorectal cancer.

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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