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Interleukin-15 improves cytotoxicity of natural killer cells via up-regulating NKG2D and cytotoxic effector molecule expression as well as STAT1 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation

Elsevier Ltd
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.cyto.2008.01.003
  • Cytokine
  • Nk Cells
  • Nkrs
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Signal Transduction
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine


Abstract NK cells are crucial components of the innate immune system, providing a first line of defense against infectious pathogens and tumors. IL-15 is the major physiologic growth factor responsible for NK cell differentiation, survival and cytolytic activity of mature NK cells. However, the exact regulatory mechanism of IL-15 on NK cell function is still unclear. In this study, we try to investigate the mechanism of IL-15 on NK cytolysis. Our results demonstrate that IL-15 treatment increased NKG2D transcripts and surface expression in NK cells. NKG2D or MICA blockade attenuated the up-regulation of IL-15 on NK cytolysis, demonstrating that the up-regulatory effect of IL-15 on NK cytolysis is at least partly dependent of the interaction of NKG2D and MICA. Furtherfore, IL-15 augmented the expression of cytotoxic effector molecules (TRAIL and Perforin) and the phosphorylation of STAT1 and ERK1/2, which may also contribute the NK lysis. These results may have therapeutic implications when designing cytokine immunotherapy against cancer.

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