Hydrodynamic delivery of human IL-15 cDNA increases murine natural killer cell recovery after syngeneic bone marrow transplantation

Isabel Barao, Maite Alvarez, Doug Redelman, Jonathan M. Weiss, John R. Ortaldo, Robert H. Wiltrout, William J Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Immune deficiency immediately following bone marrow transplantation (BMT) increases susceptibility to opportunistic infections as well as tumor relapse. Natural Killer (NK) cells play important roles in the resistance to virally infected and transformed cells. Interleukin (IL)-15 has been shown to be essential for NK cell development and survival. We administered human (h) IL-15 cDNA (pIL-15) via hydrodynamic delivery to murine recipients undergoing congenic BMT to determine its effects on NK cell reconstitution. Hydrodynamic pIL-15 delivery resulted in high levels of hIL-15 protein in the serum that lasted for several days and then quickly declined. The appearance of hIL-15 was followed by a significant increase of mature donor-derived NK cells within the bone marrow, spleens, and livers of the treated recipients. No accumulation of immature NK cell progenitors was observed. The NK cells from IL-15-treated recipients displayed an activated phenotype and were lytically active toward tumor targets in vitro to a similar degree as did those cells from recipients treated with control plasmid. This suggests that the predominant effect of IL-15 was a quantitative increase in total NK cell numbers and not qualitative changes in NK cell functions. No toxicities or adverse effects were observed. Studies performed in transplanted mice bearing renal carcinoma tumors demonstrated that this mode of hIL-15 gene delivery resulted in increased antitumor responses. These results support the use of cytokine gene transfer-based regimens as a platform to augment NK cell recovery after BMT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1754-1764
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Gene therapy
  • IL-15
  • NK reconstitution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Hematology


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