Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Persistence of effector cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) during an immunological response is critical for successfully controlling a viral infection or tumor growth. Various cytokines are known to play an important part in regulating the immune response. The IL-2 family of cytokines that includes IL-2 and IL-15 are known to function as growth and survival factors for antigen-experienced T cells. IL-2 and IL-15 possess similar properties, including the ability to induce T cell proliferation. Whereas long term IL-2 exposure has been shown to promote apoptosis and limit CD8+ memory T cell survival and proliferation, it is widely believed that IL-15 can inhibit apoptosis and helps maintain a memory CD8+ T-cell population. However, mechanisms for superior outcomes for IL-15 as compared to IL-2 are still under investigation. Our data shows that human T cells cultured in the presence of IL-15 exhibit increased expression of anti-oxidant molecules Glutathione reductase (GSR), Thioredoxin reductase 1 (TXNDR1), Peroxiredoxin (PRDX), Superoxide dismutase (SOD). An increased expression of cell-surface thiols, intracellular glutathione, and thioredoxins was also noted in IL-15 cultured T cells. Additionally, IL-15 cultured T cells also showed an increase in cytolytic effector molecules. Apart from increased level of Granzyme A and Granzyme B, IL-15 cultured T cells exhibit increased accumulation of reactive oxygen (ROS) and reactive nitrogen (RNS) species as compared to IL-2 cultured T cells. Overall, this study suggests that T cells cultured in IL-15 show increase persistence not only due to increased anti-apoptotic proteins but also due to increased anti-oxidant levels, which is further complimented by increased cytolytic effector functions.


Cytokine. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 March 13. Published in final edited form as: Cytokine. 2011 August; 55(2): 307–317. Published online 2011 May 23. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2011.04.014 PMCID: PMC3595556 NIHMSID: NIHMS293092