IL-24: a classic cytokine and/or a potential cure for cancer?

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IL-24, a member of the IL-10 family of cytokines, is produced by monocytes and Th2 cells. Interestingly, immune cells do not appear to express specific IL-24 receptor chains (IL-20R1/IL-20R2 and IL-22R/IL-20R2), it is therefore unlikely that IL-24 has classical immune-modulating properties. Skin, on the other hand, seems to represent a major target tissue for IL-24 and related cytokines such as IL-19, −20, and −22. However, the initial interest in IL-24 did not arise from its physiological signalling properties through its cognate receptors but rather because of its tentative ability to selectively kill different cancer cells. In an attempt to further investigate the signalling events underlying the IL-24-induced cancer cell death, we found that melanoma cell lines did not react in the expected and previously described way. Using several different forms and delivery modes of IL-24, we were unable to detect any apoptosis-inducing properties of this cytokine in melanoma cells. In the present ‘Point of view’ we will briefly summarizse these findings and put them in context of published reports stating that IL-24 might be a long sought after treatment for several types of cancer.

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