Medical Definition of Interleukin-12
A 75 kD heterodimeric cytokine composed of disulfide-bonded 40 kD and 35 kD subunits that was originally identified by its ability to induce cytotoxic effector cells in synergy with less than optimal concentrations of interleukin-2.
It is released by macrophages in response to infection and promotes the activation of cell-mediated immunity. Specifically, IL-12 triggers the maturation of Thl CD4 cells, specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses and an increase in the activity of NK cells and consequently, it is the initiator of cell-mediated immunity.
It enhances the lytic activity of NK cells, induces interferon production, stimulates the proliferation of activated T-cells and NK cells. Is secreted by human B lymphoblastoid cells (NC 37). May play a role in controlling immunoglobulin isotype selection as it also inhibits IgE synthesis (even in the presence of anti-IFN monoclonal antibody) and as a growth factor for activated CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells independently of interleukin-2, and for CD56+ NK cells but not resting peripheral blood mononuclear cells or resting or activated tonsillar B-cells.
It is likely that interleukin 12 has a major role in protective immunity against viruses and is under study as an immunotherapy in HIV infection.
Formerly referred to as cytotoxic lymphocyte maturation factor.
(12 Dec 1998)
Lexicographical Neighbors of Interleukin-12