Association between interleukin-15 and obesity: interleukin-15 as a potential regulator of fat mass

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Nov;93(11):4486-93. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-2561. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


Objective: IL-15 decreases lipid deposition in preadipocytes and decreases the mass of white adipose tissue in rats, indicating that IL-15 may take part in regulating this tissue. IL-15 is expressed in human skeletal muscle and skeletal muscle may be a source of plasma IL-15 and in this way regulate adipose tissue mass.

Design: The relation between skeletal muscle IL-15 mRNA expression, plasma IL-15, and adipose tissue mass was studied in 199 humans divided into four groups on the basis of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, using a DNA electrotransfer model, we assessed the effect of IL-15 overexpression in skeletal muscle of mice.

Results: In humans, multiple regression analysis showed a negative association between plasma IL-15 and total fat mass (P<0.05), trunk fat mass (P<0.01), and percent fat mass (P<0.05), independent of type 2 diabetes. Negative associations were also found between muscle IL-15 mRNA and obesity parameters. IL-15 overexpression in skeletal muscle of mice reduced trunk fat mass but not sc fat mass.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that IL-15 may be a regulator of trunk fat mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-15 / blood
  • Interleukin-15 / genetics
  • Interleukin-15 / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Physical Fitness
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Rats
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Interleukin-15
  • RNA, Messenger