We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Interleukin-2?

Karyn Maier
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Interleukin-2 is a cytokine, a specialized protein manufactured in the body by white blood cells called T-cells, also known as CD4 cells. As an interleukin, it acts as an immune system signaling molecule that relays information from cell to cell. The synthesis of interleukin-2 is stimulated by the presence of an infection. Its mechanism of action is to support the immune system by acting as an immune modulator. This is achieved by increasing the production and count of CD4 cells to fight the infection.

As one might expect, a low CD4 cell count may indicate the onset of disease. Invading viral molecules, or antigens, attack and permeate these cells through their membranes. The antigens then multiply with the goal to replicate and spread the virus to other cells. A healthy immune system responds by first detecting the invading microbes through antigen receptors that reside on the surface of lymphocytes. As antigens bind to receptor sites, the production and release of interleukin-2 is triggered. However, if immunity is impaired, this process may be inhibited.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of interleukin-2 to treat certain cancers; such as melanoma, lymphoma, and kidney cancer. In addition, interleukin-2 therapy may be beneficial in treating some chronic viral infections. However, its use in treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is problematic and not yet approved. This is primarily due to the fact that unless antiretroviral drugs are given as a control factor, interleukin-2 therapy can drive HIV viral replication by up to six times the level it was prior to treatment.

Interleukin-2 must be administered intravenously since it is a protein that would otherwise be digested if taken by mouth. Most often, it is given as subcutaneous injections, twice a day at five-day intervals. However, sometimes interleukin-2 is administered by the bolus method, which involves the dose being given by continuous intravenous therapy (IV) over the course of a few hours.

Not everyone is a candidate for interleukin-2 therapy. For instance, those who take immunosuppressive drugs, such as cortisone or prednisone, will not likely experience any benefit from interleukin-2 therapy. In addition, treatment with interleukin-2 may worsen certain immune disorders, such as diabetes. Other factors that may rule out interleukin-2 therapy for certain individuals is a decrease in neutrophil production and thyroid functioning.

Interleukin-2 therapy also involves various side effects, which is why patients receiving high doses are usually admitted and monitored in a hospital. Common side effects include nausea, fatigue, confusion, depression, irritability and insomnia. Capillary leak syndrome may occur at injection sites, which can promote fluid retention, swelling, weight gain and low blood pressure. High dose interleukin-2 therapy may also cause tachycardia (fast heart beat) and affect functioning of the liver, lungs or kidneys.

Interleukin-2 is available as the generic drug Aldesleukin, or under the trade name of Proleukin. Eligibility for interleukin-2 therapy is determined by a health care practitioner after a review of all existing medical conditions and current treatments. If qualified, regular check-ups are necessary to monitor and manage any side effects that may develop.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.