Overexpression of interleukin-15 (IL-15) is linked with immunopathology of several autoimmune disorders including celiac disease. Here, we utilized an anti-human IL-15 antibody 04H04 (anti-IL-15) to reverse immunopathogenesis of celiac disease. Anti-IL-15 was administered to six gluten-sensitive rhesus macaques with celiac disease characteristics including gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE), and the following celiac-related metrics were evaluated: morphology (villous height/crypt depth ratio) of small intestine, counts of intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes, IFN-γ-producing CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, plasma levels of anti-gliadin and anti-intestinal tissue transglutaminase IgG antibodies, as well as peripheral effector memory (CD3+CD28-CD95+) T cells. Anti-IL-15 treatment reversed the clinically relevant disease endpoints, intraepithelial lymphocyte counts, and villous height/crypt depth ratios within jejunal biopsies to normal levels (P < 0.001). Additionally, intestinal CD8+ and CD4+ T cell IFN-γ production was reduced (P < 0.05). Extra-intestinally, anti-IL-15 treatment reduced peripheral NK cell counts (P < 0.001), but otherwise, non-NK peripheral lymphocytes including effector memory T cells and serum blood chemistry were unaffected. Overall, providing the beneficial disease-modulatory and immunomodulatory effects observed, anti-IL-15 treatment might be considered as a novel therapy to normalize intestinal lymphocyte function in celiac disease patients with GSE.
Keywords: antibody therapy; celiac disease; gluten; interleukin-15; small intestine.