Diabetes mellitus induced by low-dose interleukin-2

Research paper by Neeta Soni, N. J. Meropol, Michelle Porter, Michael A. Caligiuri

Indexed on: 17 Nov '96Published on: 17 Nov '96Published in: Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy


 Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is a potent immunomodulator that has been associated with the clinical development of autoimmune disorders. However, diabetes mellitus has not been reported in patients treated with single-agent IL-2. We conducted a clinical trial of a protracted daily schedule of subcutaneously administered low-dose IL-2. A patient with advanced colorectal cancer, treated with 1.5×106 international units of IL-2 daily, developed insulin-requiring diabetes during therapy. Hyperglycemia improved during treatment interruption and recurred with reinstitution of IL-2. The diabetes in this patient developed in the context of T cell and natural killer cell expansion, and the presence of islet cell autoantibodies was documented. We postulate that, in this patient, IL-2 reversed the anergy of autoreactive T cells that had escaped clonal deletion. It is possible that prolonged daily exposure to immunomodulatory doses of IL-2 will result in the development of autoimmune phenomena not observed with other schedules of administration.