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Virology. 2000 Sep 15;275(1):57-66.

A protective role of interleukin-15 in a mouse model for systemic infection with herpes simplex virus.

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Laboratory of Host Defense & Germfree Life, Research Institute for Disease Mechanism & Control, Nagoya, Japan.


To define the role of cytokine binding to the IL-2/IL-15R beta chain in protective immunity against systemic infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), IL-2/IL-15 receptor(R)beta knock-out mice were inoculated intraperitoneally with HSV-2 strain 186. IL-2/IL-15R beta-deficient mice were susceptible to systemic HSV-2 infection compared with their heterozygous littermates. The emergence of natural killer (NK) cells was impaired in IL-2/IL-15R beta knock-out mice, but CD4(+) T cell receptor (TCR) alpha beta(+) T cells were normally detected in the peritoneal cavity after infection with HSV-2. However, the generation of HSV-2-specific CD4(+) T helper (Th) 1 cells producing interferon-gamma was impaired in IL-2/IL-15R beta knock-out mice following HSV-2 infection. The serum IL-15 level in control mice was increased in the early stage after HSV-2 infection but was not detectable in IL-2/IL-15R beta knock-out mice. In vivo administration of recombinant IL-15 protected normal mice from HSV-2-induced lethality, accompanied by increases in numbers of NK cells and HSV-2-specific Th1 cells. Taken together, these results suggest that IL-15, using the IL-2/IL15R beta chain, plays an important role in mounting protective immunity during the course of systemic HSV-2 infection.

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