Enhanced susceptibility to apoptosis in T cells recovering after autologous peripheral blood progenitor cell transplantation: reversal by interleukin-15

Cytokines Cell Mol Ther. 2000 Dec;6(4):189-98. doi: 10.1080/mccm.


T-cell number and competence are profoundly impaired after transplantation of autologous cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPC). The objective of the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of T-cell spontaneous apoptosis (Aspont) and its modulation in vitro by the interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) gamma-chain (gammac)-signaling cytokine interleukin-15 (IL-15) in the peripheral blood of patients transplanted with autologous PBPC for hematological malignancies. An average 45%+/-6% of CD4+ and 55%+/-6% of CD8+ T cells cultured in the absence of exogenous cytokines underwent Aspont; of interest, IL-15 and, to a lesser extent, its structural cousin IL-2 counteracted T-cell Aspont and upregulated Bcl-2 levels. IL-15 did not rescue T cells from Aspont by promoting proliferation, but rather it acted as a genuine survival factor. Furthermore, T-cell preincubation with a gammac-blocking antibody was capable of abrogating both apoptosis inhibition and Bcl-2 induction by IL-15. These in vitro findings suggest that IL-15 might represent a promising immunomodulating agent to improve T-cell function after autologous PBPC transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Apoptosis*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-15 / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antigens
  • Interleukin-15
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2