Low-dose interleukin-2 therapy: A promising targeted therapeutic approach for systemic lupus erythematosus

Reza Akbarzadeh, Gabriela Riemekasten, Jens Y. Humrich*

*Corresponding author for this work


Purpose of reviewLow-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy is increasingly recognized as a promising novel therapeutic concept in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, in particular in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). As IL-2 is indispensable for the growth and survival of regulatory T cells (Treg), deficiency of this regulatory cytokine plays a significant role in immune dysregulation and breach of tolerance in SLE. Recovery of Treg activity by low-dose IL-2 therapy directly interferes with the immune pathology in SLE and thus can be considered a targeted treatment approach with a unique and physiological mode of action.Recent findingsIn this review, the pathophysiological rationales behind the concept of low-dose IL-2 therapy in SLE will be explained and major advances in translational research and the clinical development of low-dose IL-2 therapy focusing on the results from two recent, randomized and placebo-controlled phase 2 trials will be highlighted.SummarySeveral clinical studies including two recent randomized trials have proven the very good safety profile of low-dose IL-2 therapy and its capability to selectively recover and expand the Treg population in patients with active SLE. Given the emerging evidence for the clinical potential of low-dose IL-2 therapy in SLE, these studies strongly confirm the pathophysiological concept behind this targeted therapeutic approach in SLE and provide a robust basis for establishing further in-depth and confirmatory clinical trials testing the application of low-dose IL-2 in SLE and other autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Rheumatology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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