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Interleukin-15 Administration Improves Diaphragm Muscle Pathology and Function in Dystrophic mdx Mice

American Society for Investigative Pathology
Publication Date
  • Original Research Paper
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Interleukin (IL)-15, a cytokine expressed in skeletal muscle, has been shown to have muscle anabolic effects in vitro and to slow muscle wasting in rats with cancer cachexia. Whether IL-15 has therapeutic potential for diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is unknown. We examined whether IL-15 administration could ameliorate the dystrophic pathology in the diaphragm muscle of the mdx mouse, an animal model for DMD. Four weeks of IL-15 treatment improved diaphragm strength, a highly significant finding because respiratory function is a mortality predictor in DMD. Enhanced diaphragm function was associated with increased muscle fiber cross-sectional area and decreased collagen infiltration. IL-15 administration was not associated with changes in T-cell populations or alterations in specific components of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway. To determine the effects of IL-15 on myofiber regeneration, muscles of IL-15-treated and untreated wild-type mice were injured myotoxically, and their functional recovery was assessed. IL-15 had a mild anabolic effect, increasing fiber cross-sectional area after 2 and 6 days but not after 10 days. Our findings demonstrate that IL-15 administration improves the pathophysiology of dystrophic muscle and highlight a possible therapeutic role for IL-15 in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders especially in which muscle wasting is indicated.

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