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Interleukin-2 (Aldesleukin)


What is Interleukin-2?

Interleukin-2 (also known as Aldesleukin and IL-2) is similar to a natural substance made by the body. Usually, the body makes small amounts of interleukin-2 that help white blood cells fight infection. It is now possible to make interleukin-2 outside the body and to give humans much higher doses than their own bodies make. It is available as a clear liquid given by vein (IV) or as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.

How Interleukin-2 is given

Interleukin-2 can be infused through a CADD pump over a 24-hour period. You must to return to the Medicine Room around the same time each day to have a new dose of medicine connected to the CADD pump.

Interleukin-2 can be given as a low dose shot under the skin every other day. Each dose will be in a syringe with subcutaneous needle and alcohol pad included. Do not give more than one (1) shot per dose. Interleukin-2 has a short expiration period when made by the pharmacy. You must return to the Outpatient Pharmacy to pick up any remaining doses for each cycle (up to 6 doses per cycle). Refer to “Do You Know... How to Give Subcutaneous Injections” for details on how to give a dose.

Possible side effects of Interleukin-2


  • Fevers and chills
  • Itching and rash
  • Flu-like symptoms like headache, tiredness, aches and pains

Later (more than a day after treatment starts)

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Fainting spells
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decrease in the amount of urine
  • Weight gain
  • Anemia
  • Low blood pressure

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 901-595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833).

Special instructions for Interleukin-2

  • Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects while receiving interleukin-2:
    • Chest tightness, wheezing, trouble breathing
    • Signs of infection such as fever or chills
    • Severe dizziness or passing out (signs of low blood pressure)
    • Change in clear, logical thinking
    • Swelling of legs or belly
    • Unusual weight gain
    • Unable to pass urine
    • Feeling extremely tired or weak
  • Interleukin-2 syringes should be stored in the refrigerator. Pay close attention to the expiration date written on the label.
  • Check with your doctor before starting any new medicines, including over-the-counter, natural products, or vitamins.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).