Background and Aims: Interleukin (IL)-15 has been found to share many immunoregulatory activities in lymphocytes with IL-2. The aim of this study was to investigate IL-15 activity in organ cultures, localization of IL-15 messenger RNA (mRNA), and proliferation of lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs) in response to recombinant IL-15 using the mucosal tissues obtained from patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods: The contents of IL-15, tumor necrosis factor α, and IL-2 in the culture supernatant of the rectal mucosal tissues were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Expression of IL-15 mRNA was analyzed by in situ hybridization, and proliferative response of LPMCs to recombinant IL-15 was determined by [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA. Results: Significantly greater IL-15 activity was detected in active IBD, and this elevation was also observed in inactive ulcerative colitis. In contrast, greater tumor necrosis factor α activity was observed only in active IBD, and IL-2 was not detected in organ cultures. In situ hybridization showed IL-15 mRNA in macrophages and epithelial cells in active IBD specimens, and recombinant IL-15 induced a dose-dependent proliferative response in LPMCs. Conclusions: Mucosal IL-15 may be involved in the pathogenesis of IBD as one of the important mediators in activation of mucosal immune cells.
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