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Interleukin 15 is essential for the development and differentiation of NK and memory CD8 (mCD8) T cells. Our laboratory previously showed that NK and CD8 T lymphocytes facilitate the pathobiology of septic shock. However, factors that regulate NK and CD8 T lymphocyte functions during sepsis are not well characterized. We hypothesized that IL-15 promotes the pathogenesis of sepsis by maintaining NK and mCD8 T cell integrity. To test our hypothesis, the pathogenesis of sepsis was assessed in IL-15-deficient (IL-15 knockout, KO) mice. IL-15 KO mice showed improved survival, attenuated hypothermia, and less proinflammatory cytokine production during septic shock caused by cecal ligation and puncture or endotoxin-induced shock. Treatment with IL-15 superagonist (IL-15 SA, IL-15/IL-15Rα complex) regenerated NK and mCD8 T cells and re-established mortality of IL-15 KO mice during septic shock. Preventing NK cell regeneration attenuated the restoration of mortality caused by IL-15 SA. If given immediately prior to septic challenge, IL-15-neutralizing IgG M96 failed to protect against septic shock. However, M96 caused NK cell depletion if given 4 d prior to septic challenge and conferred protection. IL-15 SA treatment amplified endotoxin shock, which was prevented by NK cell or IFN-γ depletion. IL-15 SA treatment also exacerbated septic shock caused by cecal ligation and puncture when given after the onset of sepsis. In conclusion, endogenous IL-15 does not directly augment the pathogenesis of sepsis but enables the development of septic shock by maintaining NK cell numbers and integrity. Exogenous IL-15 exacerbates the severity of sepsis by activating NK cells and facilitating IFN-γ production.
Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that recognize and lyse virally infected or transformed cells. This latter property is being pursued in clinics to treat leukemia with the hope that further breakthroughs in NK cell biology can extend treatments to other cancers. At issue is the ability to expand transferred NK cells and prolong their functionality within the context of a tumor. In terms of NK cell expansion and survival, we now report that Kruppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) is a key transcription factor that underpins both of these events. Excision of Klf2 using gene-targeted mouse models promotes spontaneous proliferation of immature NK cells in peripheral tissues, a phenotype that is replicated under ex vivo conditions. Moreover, KLF2 imprints a homeostatic migration pattern on mature NK cells that allows these cells to access IL-15-rich microenvironments. KLF2 accomplishes this feat within the mature NK cell lineage via regulation of a subset of homing receptors that respond to homeostatic ligands while leaving constitutively expressed receptors that recognize inflammatory cytokines unperturbed. Under steady-state conditions, KLF2-deficient NK cells alter their expression of homeostatic homing receptors and subsequently undergo apoptosis due to IL-15 starvation. This novel mechanism has implications regarding NK cell contraction following the termination of immune responses including the possibility that retention of an IL-15 transpresenting support system is key to extending NK cell activity in a tumor environment.
BACKGROUND - Severely burned patients are highly susceptible to opportunistic infections and sepsis, owing to the loss of the protective skin barrier and immunological dysfunction. Interleukin-15 (IL-15) belongs to the IL-2 family of common gamma chain cytokines and stimulates the proliferation and activation of T (specifically memory CD8), NK and NKT cells. It has been shown to preserve T cell function and improve survival during cecal ligation and puncture (CLP)-induced sepsis in mice. However, the therapeutic efficacy of IL-15 or IL-15 superagonist (SA) during infection after burn injury has not been evaluated. Moreover, very few, if any, studies have examined, in detail, the effect of burn injury and infection on the adaptive immune system. Thus, we examined the effect of burn and sepsis on adaptive immune cell populations and the effect of IL-15 SA treatment on the host response to infection.
METHODS - Mice were subjected to a 35% total body surface area burn, followed by wound infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In some experiments, IL-15 SA was administered after burn injury, but before infection. Leukocytes in spleen, liver and peritoneal cavity were characterized using flow cytometry. Bacterial clearance, organ injury and survival were also assessed.
RESULTS - Burn wound infection led to a significant decline in total white blood cell and lymphocyte counts and induced organ injury and sepsis. Burn injury caused decline in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the spleen, which was worsened by infection. IL-15 treatment inhibited this decline and significantly increased cell numbers and activation, as determined by CD69 expression, of CD4+, CD8+, B, NK and NKT cells in the spleen and liver after burn injury. However, IL-15 SA treatment failed to prevent burn wound sepsis-induced loss of CD4+, CD8+, B, NK and NKT cells and failed to improve bacterial clearance and survival.
CONCLUSION - Cutaneous burn injury and infection cause significant adaptive immune dysfunction. IL-15 SA does not augment host resistance to burn wound sepsis in mice despite inducing proliferation and activation of lymphocyte subsets.
Recovery from organ-specific autoimmune diseases largely relies on the mobilization of endogenous repair mechanisms and local factors that control them. Natural killer (NK) cells are swiftly mobilized to organs targeted by autoimmunity and typically undergo numerical contraction when inflammation wanes. We report the unexpected finding that NK cells are retained in the brain subventricular zone (SVZ) during the chronic phase of multiple sclerosis in humans and its animal model in mice. These NK cells were found preferentially in close proximity to SVZ neural stem cells (NSCs) that produce interleukin-15 and sustain functionally competent NK cells. Moreover, NK cells limited the reparative capacity of NSCs following brain inflammation. These findings reveal that reciprocal interactions between NSCs and NK cells regulate neurorepair.
IL-15 is currently undergoing clinical trials to assess its efficacy for treatment of advanced cancers. The combination of IL-15 with soluble IL-15Rα generates a complex termed IL-15 superagonist (IL-15 SA) that possesses greater biological activity than IL-15 alone. IL-15 SA is considered an attractive antitumor and antiviral agent because of its ability to selectively expand NK and memory CD8(+) T (mCD8(+) T) lymphocytes. However, the adverse consequences of IL-15 SA treatment have not been defined. In this study, the effect of IL-15 SA on physiologic and immunologic functions of mice was evaluated. IL-15 SA caused dose- and time-dependent hypothermia, weight loss, liver injury, and mortality. NK (especially the proinflammatory NK subset), NKT, and mCD8(+) T cells were preferentially expanded in spleen and liver upon IL-15 SA treatment. IL-15 SA caused NK cell activation as indicated by increased CD69 expression and IFN-γ, perforin, and granzyme B production, whereas NKT and mCD8(+) T cells showed minimal, if any, activation. Cell depletion and adoptive transfer studies showed that the systemic toxicity of IL-15 SA was mediated by hyperproliferation of activated NK cells. Production of the proinflammatory cytokine IFN-γ, but not TNF-α or perforin, was essential to IL-15 SA-induced immunotoxicity. The toxicity and immunological alterations shown in this study are comparable to those reported in recent clinical trials of IL-15 in patients with refractory cancers and advance current knowledge by providing mechanistic insights into IL-15 SA-mediated immunotoxicity.
Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
As the use of lenalidomide expands, the poorly understood phenomenon of lenalidomide-induced thyroid abnormalities will increase. In this study, we compared rates of therapy-induced hypothyroidism in 329 patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treated with conventional chemotherapy (DLBCL-c) or conventional chemotherapy plus lenalidomide (DLBCL-len). We measured serum levels of tumor necrosis factor α, interferon gamma, interleukin 6, interleukin 12, and interleukin 15 before and after treatment. We found a significantly higher rate of therapy-induced hypothyroidism in the DLBCL-len group (25.8% vs. 1.3%), and we found a statistically significant increase in serum tumor necrosis factor α in patients with lenalidomide-induced hypothyroidism.
Copyright © 2015 ISEH - International Society for Experimental Hematology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Innate immune responses are critical for mucosal immunity. Here we describe an innate lymphocyte population, iCD8α cells, characterized by expression of CD8α homodimers. iCD8α cells exhibit innate functional characteristics such as the capacity to engulf and kill bacteria. Development of iCD8α cells depends on expression of interleukin-2 receptor γ chain (IL-2Rγc), IL-15, and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class Ib protein H2-T3, also known as the thymus leukemia antigen or TL. While lineage tracking experiments indicated that iCD8α cells have a lymphoid origin, their development was independent of the transcriptional suppressor Id2, suggesting that these cells do not belong to the family of innate lymphoid cells. Finally, we identified cells with a similar phenotype in humans, which were profoundly depleted in newborns with necrotizing enterocolitis. These findings suggest a critical role of iCD8α cells in immune responses associated with the intestinal epithelium.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND AIMS - To develop a treatment option for Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph(+)ALL) resistant to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), we evaluated the anti-leukemic activity of T cells non-virally engineered to express a CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR).
METHODS - A CD19.CAR gene was delivered into mononuclear cells from 10 mL of blood of healthy donors through the use of piggyBac-transposons and the 4-D Nucleofector System. Nucleofected cells were stimulated with CD3/CD28 antibodies, magnetically selected for the CD19.CAR, and cultured in interleukin-15-containing serum-free medium with autologous feeder cells for 21 days. To evaluate their cytotoxic potency, we co-cultured CAR T cells with seven Ph(+)ALL cell lines including three TKI-resistant (T315I-mutated) lines at an effector-to-target ratio of 1:5 or lower without cytokines.
RESULTS - We obtained ∼1.3 × 10(8) CAR T cells (CD4(+), 25.4%; CD8(+), 71.3%), co-expressing CD45RA and CCR7 up to ∼80%. After 7-day co-culture, CAR T cells eradicated all tumor cells at the 1:5 and 1:10 ratios and substantially reduced tumor cell numbers at the 1:50 ratio. Kinetic analysis revealed up to 37-fold proliferation of CAR T cells during a 20-day culture period in the presence of tumor cells. On exposure to tumor cells, CAR T cells transiently and reproducibly upregulated the expression of transgene as well as tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand and interleukin-2.
CONCLUSIONS - We generated a clinically relevant number of CAR T cells from 10 mL of blood through the use of piggyBac-transposons, a 4D-Nulcleofector, and serum/xeno/tumor cell/virus-free culture system. CAR T cells exhibited marked cytotoxicity against Ph(+)ALL regardless of T315I mutation. PiggyBac-mediated CD19-specific T-cell therapy may provide an effective, inexpensive and safe option for drug-resistant Ph(+)ALL.
Copyright © 2014 International Society for Cellular Therapy. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Semi-invariant NKT cells are thymus-derived innate-like lymphocytes that modulate microbial and tumor immunity as well as autoimmune diseases. These immunoregulatory properties of NKT cells are acquired during their development. Much has been learned regarding the molecular and cellular cues that promote NKT cell development, yet how these cells are maintained in the thymus and the periphery and how they acquire functional competence are incompletely understood. We found that IL-15 induced several Bcl-2 family survival factors in thymic and splenic NKT cells in vitro. Yet, IL-15-mediated thymic and peripheral NKT cell survival critically depended on Bcl-x(L) expression. Additionally, IL-15 regulated thymic developmental stage 2 to stage 3 lineage progression and terminal NKT cell differentiation. Global gene expression analyses and validation revealed that IL-15 regulated Tbx21 (T-bet) expression in thymic NKT cells. The loss of IL-15 also resulted in poor expression of key effector molecules such as IFN-γ, granzyme A and C, as well as several NK cell receptors, which are also regulated by T-bet in NKT cells. Taken together, our findings reveal a critical role for IL-15 in NKT cell survival, which is mediated by Bcl-x(L), and effector differentiation, which is consistent with a role of T-bet in regulating terminal maturation.
Optimal implementation of adoptive T-cell therapy for cancer will likely require multiple and maintained genetic modifications of the infused T cells and their progeny so that they home to tumor sites and recognize tumor cells, overcome tumor immune evasion strategies, and remain safe. Retroviral vectors readily transduce T cells and integrate into the host cell genome, but have a limited capacity for multigene insertion and cotransduction and are prohibitively expensive to produce at clinical grade. Genetic modification of T cells using transposons as integrating plasmids is an attractive alternative because of the increased simplicity and cost of production. Of available transposons, piggyBac has the higher transposase activity and larger cargo capacity, and we now evaluate piggyBac for potential adoptive therapies with primary T cells. PiggyBac transposons mediated stable gene expression in approximately 20% of primary T cells without selection. Treatment and maintenance of T cells with interleukin-15 increased stable transgene expression up to approximately 40% and expression was sustained through multiple logs of expansion for over 9 weeks in culture. We demonstrate simultaneous integration of 2 independent transposons in 20% of T cells, a frequency that could be increased to over 85% by selection of a transgenic surface marker (truncated CD19). PiggyBac could also deliver transposons of up to 13 kb with 10,000-fold expansion of transduced T cells in culture and finally we demonstrate delivery of a functional suicide gene (iCasp9). PiggyBac transposons may thus be used to express the multiple integrated transgenes that will likely be necessary for the broader success of T-cell therapy.