IL-15 is chemotactic for natural killer cells and stimulates their adhesion to vascular endothelium

P. Allavena, G. Giardina, G. Bianchi, A. Mantovani

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Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is a recently described cytokine with IL-2-like stimulating activities on T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells. IL-15 mediates its function through the β- and γ-chains of the IL-2 receptor. In this work, we have investigated the effect of IL-15 on the directional migration of NK cells in chemotaxis assays and on the ability of NK cells to bind to vascular endothelium. IL-15 (10-20 ng/mL) had chemotactic effects on freshly isolated resting NK cells as well as on long-termed IL-2-cultured NK cells. A checkerboard experiment demonstrated that migration in response to IL-15 was observed only in the presence of a positive gradient (chemotaxis). Overnight treatment of freshly isolated NK cells with IL-15 (10-20 ng/mL) augmented their binding to cultured endothelial cells (EC) in vitro, especially to resting EC. IL-15-activated NK cells bound to resting and tumor necrosis factor-activated EC by use of LFA-1/ICAM-1 and VLA-4/VCAM-1 adhesion pathways, essentially as untreated NK cells do. The fact that IL-15 increased NK cell binding to ICAM-1-transfected NIH-3T3 fibroblasts, together with the finding that IL-15 did not increase binding to extracellular matrix proteins, where the major molecules involved are VLA proteins, indicated that IL-15 primarily stimulates LFA-1-dependent adhesion. By increasing NK cell adhesion to vascular endothelium and migratory response, IL-15 is an important determinant of NK cell recruitment in tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-735
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


  • Chemotaxis
  • Migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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