IL-15 receptor maintains lymphoid homeostasis by supporting lymphocyte homing and proliferation

Immunity. 1998 Nov;9(5):669-76. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80664-0.


The IL-15 receptor alpha subunit (IL-15Ralpha) mediates high-affinity binding of IL-15, a pleiotropic cytokine implicated in the development of innate immune cells. We have generated IL-15Ralpha null (IL-15Ralpha-/-) mice to understand the role of IL-15Ralpha in immune development and function. IL-15Ralpha-/- mice are markedly lymphopenic despite grossly normal T and B lymphocyte development. This lymphopenia is due to decreased proliferation and decreased homing of IL-15Ralpha-/- lymphocytes to peripheral lymph nodes. These mice are also deficient in natural killer cells, natural killer T cells, CD8+ T lymphocytes, and TCRgammadelta intraepithelial lymphocytes. In addition, memory phenotype CD8+ T cells are selectively reduced in number. Thus, IL-15Ralpha has pleiotropic roles in immune development and function, including the positive maintenance of lymphocyte homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymph Nodes / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Interleukin-15
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Il15ra protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Interleukin-15
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2