Interleukin 15 (IL-15), a cytokine cell signaling molecule, is essential for the maintenance and function of natural killer (NK) cells and CD8-positive (CD8+) T cells. Edward Sherwood, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues previously showed that NK cells and CD8+ T cells facilitate the pathobiology of septic shock, a life-threatening condition involving organ injury caused by infection.
Now, in studies led by postdoctoral fellow Yin Guo, Ph.D., the researchers demonstrate that IL-15 promotes sepsis by maintaining NK cell numbers and integrity.
They showed that mice missing the gene for IL-15 had improved survival, reduced hypothermia and less proinflammatory cytokine production during experimentally induced septic shock. Administering IL-15 superagonist to the mice regenerated NK and CD8+ T cells and re-established the mortality of septic shock.
Guo, Y., Luan, L., Patil, N. K., Wang, J., Bohannon, J. K., Rabacal, W., . . . Sherwood, E. R. (2016). IL-15 Enables Septic Shock by Maintaining NK Cell Integrity and Function. The Journal of Immunology, 198(3), 1320-1333. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1601486
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