The main function of IL-2 is to promote the development of T regulatory cells

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


Based primarily on vitro studies, interleukin (IL)-2 has been considered a key growth and death factor for antigen-activated T lymphocytes. IL-2 is also essential to maintain self-tolerance, as IL-2- and IL-2 receptor-deficient mice exhibit lethal autoimmunity. The intrinsic death-sensitizing activity of IL-2 was thought to be a key mediator for apoptosis of peripheral autoreactive T cells. However, recent in vivo studies strongly favor a model whereby IL-2 controls autoimmunity through the production of CD4+CD25+ T regulatory (Treg) cells. In this setting, IL-2 is essential for expansion of Treg cells within the thymus and in peripheral neonatal-immune tissue. Thus, from being considered the primary growth factor for antigen-activated T lymphocytes, these new findings redefine the pivotal role for IL-2 as the major inducer for the developmental production of suppressive Treg cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-965
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Autoimmunity
  • CD4CD25
  • IL-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The main function of IL-2 is to promote the development of T regulatory cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this