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Mechanism of Action of IL-7 and Its Potential Applications and Limitations in Cancer Immunotherapy

Institute of Cancer, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400037, China
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
Biomedical Analysis Center, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kamal D. Moudgil
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(5), 10267-10280;
Received: 12 March 2015 / Revised: 16 April 2015 / Accepted: 29 April 2015 / Published: 6 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism of Action and Applications of Cytokines in Immunotherapy)
PDF [1030 KB, uploaded 6 May 2015]


Interleukin-7 (IL-7) is a non-hematopoietic cell-derived cytokine with a central role in the adaptive immune system. It promotes lymphocyte development in the thymus and maintains survival of naive and memory T cell homeostasis in the periphery. Moreover, it is important for the organogenesis of lymph nodes (LN) and for the maintenance of activated T cells recruited into the secondary lymphoid organs (SLOs). The immune capacity of cancer patients is suppressed that is characterized by lower T cell counts, less effector immune cells infiltration, higher levels of exhausted effector cells and higher levels of immunosuppressive cytokines, such as transforming growth factor β (TGF-β). Recombinant human IL-7 (rhIL-7) is an ideal solution for the immune reconstitution of lymphopenia patients by promoting peripheral T cell expansion. Furthermore, it can antagonize the immunosuppressive network. In animal models, IL-7 has been proven to prolong the survival of tumor-bearing hosts. In this review, we will focus on the mechanism of action and applications of IL-7 in cancer immunotherapy and the potential restrictions for its usage. View Full-Text
Keywords: IL-7; cancer; immunotherapy IL-7; cancer; immunotherapy

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Gao, J.; Zhao, L.; Wan, Y.Y.; Zhu, B. Mechanism of Action of IL-7 and Its Potential Applications and Limitations in Cancer Immunotherapy. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 10267-10280.

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