Dual Roles of IL-27 in Cancer Biology and Immunotherapy

Marina Fabbi, Grazia Carbotti, Silvano Ferrini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


IL-27 is a pleiotropic two-chain cytokine, composed of EBI3 and IL-27p28 subunits, which is structurally related to both IL-12 and IL-6 cytokine families. IL-27 acts through a heterodimer receptor consisting of IL-27Rα (WSX1) and gp130 chains, which mediate signaling predominantly through STAT1 and STAT3. IL-27 was initially reported as an immune-enhancing cytokine that supports CD4+ T cell proliferation, T helper (Th)1 cell differentiation, and IFN-γ production, acting in concert with IL-12. However, subsequent studies demonstrated that IL-27 displays complex immune-regulatory functions, which may result in either proinflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects in relationship to the biological context and experimental models considered. Several pieces of evidence, obtained in preclinical tumor models, indicated that IL-27 has a potent antitumor activity, related not only to the induction of tumor-specific Th1 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses but also to direct inhibitory effects on tumor cell proliferation, survival, invasiveness, and angiogenic potential. Nonetheless, given its immune-regulatory functions, the effects of IL-27 on cancer may be dual and protumor effects may also occur. Here, we will summarize IL-27 biological activities and its functional overlaps with the IFNs and discuss its dual role in tumors in the light of potential applications to cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3958069
JournalMediators of Inflammation
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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