Interleukin 12, also known as natural killer cell stimulatory factor (NKSF) or cytotoxic lymphocyte maturation factor (CLMF), is a pleiotropic cytokine originally identified in the medium of activated human B lymphoblastoid cell lines. The p40 subunit of IL-12 has been shown to have extensive amino acid sequence homology to the extracellular domain of the human IL-6 receptor while the p35 subunit shows distant but significant sequence similarity to IL-6, G-CSF, and chicken MGF. Current evidence indicates that IL‑12, produced by macrophages in response to infectious agents, is a central mediator of the cell‑mediated immune response by its actions on the development, proliferation, and activities of TH1 cells. In its role as the initiator of cell-mediated immunity, it has been suggested that IL-12 has therapeutic potential as a stimulator of cell-mediated immune responses to microbial pathogens, metastatic cancers, and viral infections such as AIDS.
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