A granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-15 fusokine induces a regulatory B cell population with immune suppressive properties

Nat Med. 2009 Sep;15(9):1038-45. doi: 10.1038/nm.2003. Epub 2009 Aug 9.


We have previously shown that a granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and interleukin-15 (IL-15) 'fusokine' (GIFT15) exerts immune suppression via aberrant signaling through the IL-15 receptor on lymphomyeloid cells. We show here that ex vivo GIFT15 treatment of mouse splenocytes generates suppressive regulatory cells of B cell ontogeny (hereafter called GIFT15 B(reg) cells). Arising from CD19+ B cells, GIFT15 B(reg) cells express major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) and MHCII, surface IgM and IgD, and secrete IL-10, akin to previously described B10 and T2-MZP B(reg) cells, but lose expression of the transcription factor PAX5, coupled to upregulation of CD138 and reciprocal suppression of CD19. Mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis went into complete remission after intravenous infusion of GIFT15 B(reg) cells paralleled by suppressed neuroinflammation. The clinical effect was abolished when GIFT15 B(reg) cells were derived from mmicroMT (lacking B cells), MHCII-knockout, signal transducer and activator of transcription-6 (STAT-6)-knockout, IL-10-knockout or allogeneic splenocytes, consistent with a pivotal role for MHCII and IL-10 by sygeneic B cells for the observed therapeutic effect. We propose that autologous GIFT15 B(reg) cells may serve as a new treatment for autoimmune ailments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / transplantation
  • Cytokines
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / therapy
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-15 / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / deficiency
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor / immunology
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Transplantation, Isogeneic


  • Cytokines
  • GIFT15 protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Interleukin-15
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • STAT6 Transcription Factor
  • Stat6 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor