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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 1;177(9):6072-80.

Combined IL-15/IL-15Ralpha immunotherapy maximizes IL-15 activity in vivo.

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Department of Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


IL-15 has substantial potential as an immunotherapeutic agent for augmenting immune responses. However, the activity of IL-15 is mediated by a unique mechanism in which the cytokine is transpresented by cell-bound high-affinity IL-15Ralpha to target cells expressing the IL-15Rbeta and the common gamma-chain. Thus, the efficacy of administered IL-15 alone may be limited by the availability of free IL-15Ralpha. We now show that administration of soluble IL-15/IL-15Ralpha complexes greatly enhanced IL-15 half-life and bioavailability in vivo. Treatment of mice with this complex, but not with IL-15 alone, resulted in robust proliferation of memory CD8 T cells, NK cells, and NK T cells. The activity of the complex required IL-15Rbeta, but not IL-15Ralpha, expression by the responding cells and was IL-7-independent. Interestingly, IL-15/IL-15Ralpha immunotherapy also caused naive CD8 T cell activation and development into effector cells and long-term memory T cells. Lastly, complexed IL-15, as compared with IL-15 alone, dramatically reduced tumor burden in a model of B16 melanoma. These findings hold significant importance for the use of IL-15 as a potential adjuvant/therapeutic and inducer of homeostatic proliferation, without the necessity for prior immunodepletion.

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