Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Aug 13;110(33):13534-9.
Insulin-dependent diabetes induced by pancreatic beta cell expression of IL-15 and IL-15Rα.
Chen J, Feigenbaum L, Awasthi P, Butcher DO, Anver MR, Golubeva YG, Bamford R, Zhang X, St Claire MB, Thomas CJ, Discepolo V, Jabri B, Waldmann TA.
Metabolism Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-1374, USA.
Increased serum levels of IL-15 are reported in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Here we report elevated serum soluble IL-15Rα levels in human T1D. To investigate the role of IL-15/IL-15Rα in the pathogenesis of T1D, we generated double transgenic mice with pancreatic β-cell expression of IL-15 and IL-15Rα. The mice developed hyperglycemia, marked mononuclear cell infiltration, β-cell destruction, and anti-insulin autoantibodies that mimic early human T1D. The diabetes in this model was reversed by inhibiting IL-15 signaling with anti-IL2/IL15Rβ (anti-CD122), which blocks IL-15 transpresentation. Furthermore, the diabetes could be reversed by administration of the Janus kinase 2/3 inhibitor tofacitinib, which blocks IL-15 signaling. In an alternative diabetes model, nonobese diabetic mice, IL15/IL-15Rα expression was increased in islet cells in the prediabetic stage, and inhibition of IL-15 signaling with anti-CD122 at the prediabetic stage delayed diabetes development. In support of the view that these observations reflect the conditions in humans, we demonstrated pancreatic islet expression of both IL-15 and IL-15Rα in human T1D. Taken together our data suggest that disordered IL-15 and IL-15Rα may be involved in T1D pathogenesis and the IL-15/IL15Rα system and its signaling pathway may be rational therapeutic targets for early T1D.