Interleukin 15 (IL-15) is a widely expressed 14 kDa cytokine that is structurally and functionally related to IL-2 and plays an important role in many immunological diseases. IL-15 binds with high affinity to IL-15 R alpha (4). It binds with lower affinity to a complex of IL-2 R beta and the common gamma chain (gamma c) which are also subunits of the IL-2 receptor complex. IL-15 associates with IL-15 R alpha in the endoplasmic reticulum, and this complex is expressed on the cell surface. IL-15 induces or enhances the differentiation, maintenance, or activation of multiple T cell subsets including NK, NKT, Th17, Treg, and CD8+ memory cells. An important component of these functions is the ability of IL-15 to induce dendritic cell differentiation and inflammatory activation. IL-15 exhibits anti-tumor activity independent of its actions on NK cells or CD8+ T cells. It also inhibits the deposition of lipid in adipocytes, and its circulating levels are decreased in obesity.
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