Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is a heterodimeric cytokine composed of the p35 and p40 subunits. It is produced by antigen-presenting cells and plays a critical role in host defense against intracellular microbial infection and control of malignancy via its ability to stimulate both innate and adaptive immune effector cells. The potency of IL-12 renders itself to stringent regulation of the timing, locality and magnitude of its production during an immune response. Subversion of the delicate control and balance frequently leads to immunologic disorders. In this article, we provide an update, since our last review of the subject four years ago, on recent advances in: (1) uncovering of novel activities of IL-12 and related molecules in various immunological settings and models; and (2) dissection of the physiological pathways involved in the modulation of IL-12 production by pathogens and immune regulators. The increased understanding of IL-12 immunobiology and expression will likely benefit the development of therapeutic modalities to correct immune dysfunctions.
Keywords: interleukin, antigen-presenting cell, macrophage, dendritic cell, t helper cell, natural killer cell, cytotoxic t lymphocyte
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