Interleukin-15 is required for immunosurveillance and immunoprevention of HER2/neu-driven mammary carcinogenesis

Stefania Croci, Patrizia Nanni, Arianna Palladini, Giordano Nicoletti, Valentina Grosso, Giorgia Benegiamo, Lorena Landuzzi, Alessia Lamolinara, Marianna L. Ianzano, Dario Ranieri, Massimiliano Dall'Ora, Manuela Iezzi, Carla De Giovanni, Pier Luigi Lollini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: We previously demonstrated that HER2/neu-driven mammary carcinogenesis can be prevented by an interleukin-12 (IL-12)-adjuvanted allogeneic HER2/neu-expressing cell vaccine. Since IL-12 can induce the release of interleukin-15 (IL-15), in the present study we investigated the role played by IL-15 in HER2/neu driven mammary carcinogenesis and in its immunoprevention. Methods: HER2/neu transgenic mice with homozygous knockout of IL-15 (here referred to as IL15KO/NeuT mice) were compared to IL-15 wild-type HER2/neu transgenic mice (NeuT) regarding mammary carcinogenesis, profile of peripheral blood lymphocytes and splenocytes and humoral and cellular responses induced by the vaccine. Results: IL15KO/NeuT mice showed a significantly earlier mammary cancer onset than NeuT mice, with median latency times of 16 and 20 weeks respectively, suggesting a role for IL-15 in cancer immunosurveillance. Natural killer (NK) and CD8+ lymphocytes were significantly lower in IL15KO/NeuT mice compared to mice with wild-type IL-15. The IL-12-adjuvanted allogeneic HER2/neu-expressing cell vaccine was still able to delay mammary cancer onset but efficacy in IL-15-lacking mice vanished earlier: all vaccinated IL15KO/NeuT mice developed tumors within 80 weeks of age (median latency of 53 weeks), whereas more than 70 % of vaccinated NeuT mice remained tumor-free up to 80 weeks of age. Vaccinated IL15KO/NeuT mice showed less necrotic tumors with fewer CD3+ lymphocyes and lacked perforin-positive infiltrating cells compared to NeuT mice. Concerning the anti-vaccine antibody response, antibody titer was unaffected by the lack of IL-15, but less antibodies of IgM and IgG1 isotypes were found in IL15KO/NeuT mice. A lower induction by vaccine of systemic interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin-5 (IL-5) was also observed in IL15KO/NeuT mice when compared to NeuT mice. Finally, we found a lower level of CD8+ memory cells in the peripheral blood of vaccinated IL15KO/NeuT mice compared to NeuT mice. Conclusions: We demonstrated that IL-15 has a role in mammary cancer immunosurveillance and that IL-15-regulated NK and CD8+ memory cells play a role in long-lasting immunoprevention, further supporting the potential use of IL-15 as adjuvant in immunological strategies against tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 22 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Interleukin-15 is required for immunosurveillance and immunoprevention of HER2/neu-driven mammary carcinogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this