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Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Jun 15;22(12):1960-70. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-01-0053. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Interleukin-15 regulates proliferation and self-renewal of adult neural stem cells.

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  • 1Functional and Systems Neurobiology Department, Cajal Institute (CSIC), Madrid, Spain. dgomeznicola@gmail.com


The impact of inflammation is crucial for the regulation of the biology of neural stem cells (NSCs). Interleukin-15 (IL-15) appears as a likely candidate for regulating neurogenesis, based on its well-known mitogenic properties. We show here that NSCs of the subventricular zone (SVZ) express IL-15, which regulates NSC proliferation, as evidenced by the study of IL-15-/- mice and the effects of acute IL-15 administration, coupled to 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine/5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine dual-pulse labeling. Moreover, IL-15 regulates NSC differentiation, its deficiency leading to an impaired generation of neuroblasts in the SVZ-rostral migratory stream axis, recoverable through the action of exogenous IL-15. IL-15 expressed in cultured NSCs is linked to self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation. IL-15-/- NSCs presented deficient proliferation and self-renewal, as evidenced in proliferation and colony-forming assays and the analysis of cell cycle-regulatory proteins. Moreover, IL-15-deficient NSCs were more prone to differentiate than wild-type NSCs, not affecting the cell population balance. Lack of IL-15 led to a defective activation of the JAK/STAT and ERK pathways, key for the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of NSCs. The results show that IL-15 is a key regulator of neurogenesis in the adult and is essential to understanding diseases with an inflammatory component.

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