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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology
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ISSN Imprimer: 1040-8401
ISSN En ligne: 2162-6472

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Critical Reviews™ in Immunology

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.v24.i4.20
12 pages

Interleukin 21: A Key Player in Lymphocyte Maturation

Stephen L. Nutt
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville Victoria, 3050, Australia
Jason Brady
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville Victoria, 3050, Australia
Yoshihiro Hayakawa
Cancer Immunology Program, Sir Donald and Lady Trescowthick Laboratories, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St. Andrews Place, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Mark J. Smyth
Cancer Immunology Program, Sir Donald and Lady Trescowthick Laboratories, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St. Andrews Place, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

RÉSUMÉ

The common γ chain family of cytokine receptors plays a plethora of roles during the early development, activation, and terminal differentiation of the lymphocyte lineages. The most recently identified member of this family, the IL-21R, is expressed to varying degrees on B, T lymphocytes, and natural killer (NK) cells, whereas IL-21, is reportedly only produced by activated CD4+ T cells. In keeping with this expression pattern the IL-21:IL-21R interaction is important for the latter stages and function of all three lymphoid lineages. IL-21 is a regulator of B-cell differentiation to plasma cells as well as immunoglobulin class switching. In contrast, within the T-cell lineage, IL-21 acts as a co-stimulator of proliferation, enhances memory response, and modulates homeostasis. Within the innate immune system IL-21 has a role in the terminal differentiation of NK cells, enhancing cytotoxic function while also decreasing cellular viability. These immune maturation and stimulating functions have resulted in IL-21 being tested in a variety of models of immunity. In these contexts, IL-21 has shown very promising efficacy in a number of antitumor immune responses mediated by NK and or T lymphocytes.


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