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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39553. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039553. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Interleukin-15 treatment induces weight loss independent of lymphocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster Immunology Research Centre and Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

Obesity is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by activation and infiltration of proinflammatory immune cells and a dysregulated production of proinflammatory cytokines. While known as a key regulator of immune natural killer (NK) cell function and development, we have recently demonstrated that reduced expression of the cytokine Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is closely linked with increased body weight and adiposity in mice and humans. Previously, we and others have shown that obese individuals have lower circulating levels of IL-15 and NK cells. Lean IL-15 overexpressing (IL-15 tg) mice had an accumulation in adipose NK cells compared to wildtype and NK cell deficient obese IL-15(-/-) mice. Since IL-15 induces weight loss in IL-15(-/-) and diet induced obese mice and has effects on various lymphocytes, the aim of this paper was to determine if lymphocytes, particularly NK cells, play a role in IL-15 mediated weight loss. Acute IL-15 treatment resulted in an increased accumulation of NK, NKT, and CD3(+) T cells in adipose tissue of B6 mice. Mice depleted of NK and NKT cells had similar weight loss comparable to controls treated with IL-15. Finally, IL-15 treatment induces significant weight loss in lymphocyte deficient RAG2(-/-)γc(-/-) mice independent of food intake. Fat pad cross-sections show decreased pad size with cytokine treatment is due to adipocyte shrinkage. These results clearly suggest that IL-15 mediates weight loss independent of lymphocytes.

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