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Gastroenterology. 2007 Mar;132(3):994-1008. Epub 2006 Dec 16.

Inhibition of TGF-beta signaling by IL-15: a new role for IL-15 in the loss of immune homeostasis in celiac disease.

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INSERM U793, Paris, France.



Interleukin (IL)-15 delivers signals that drive chronic inflammation in several diseases, including celiac disease. Smad3-transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) signaling is instrumental to counteract proinflammatory signals and maintain immune homeostasis. Our goal has been to investigate why the proinflammatory effects of IL-15 cannot be efficiently controlled by TGF-beta in celiac disease.


The impact of IL-15 on TGF-beta signaling in T cells and in the intestinal mucosa of celiac disease patients was analyzed by combining cell and organ cultures, immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, real-time polymerase chain reaction, electromobility gel shift, and Western blot.


IL-15 impaired Smad3-dependent TGF-beta signaling in human T lymphocytes downstream from Smad3 nuclear translocation. IL-15-mediated inhibition was associated with a long-lasting activation of c-jun-N-terminal kinase and reversed by c-jun antisense oligonucleotides, consistent with the demonstrated inhibitory effect of phospho-c-jun on the formation of Smad3-DNA complexes. In active celiac disease, intestinal lymphocytes showed impaired TGF-beta-Smad3-dependent transcriptional responses and up-regulation of phospho-c-jun. Anti-IL-15 antibody and c-jun antisense both downmodulated phospho-c-jun expression and restored TGF-beta-Smad-dependent transcription in biopsies of active celiac disease. c-jun antisense decreased interferon gamma transcription.


Impairment of TGF-beta-mediated signaling by IL-15 might promote and sustain intestinal inflammation in celiac disease. More generally, our data provide a new rationale for the potent proinflammatory effects of IL-15, and further support the concept that IL-15 is a meaningful therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases associated with irreducible elevation of IL-15.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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