Interleukin-15 (IL-15) is a cytokine produced in the normal brain that acts on its specific receptor IL-15Rα and co-receptors IL-2Rβ and IL-2Rγ in neuronal cells. The functions of the cerebral IL-15 system, however, are not yet clear. To test the hypothesis that IL-15Rα regulates metabolic activity and body temperature, we quantified the specific metabolic phenotype of IL-15Rα knockout mice. These normal-appearing mice were leaner with lower fat composition. During the entire circadian cycle, the knockout mice had a significantly higher acrophase in locomotor activity and heat dissipation. During the light phase, there was significantly greater food intake, oxygen consumption, and carbon dioxide production. The difference in the dark and light phases suggests that IL-15Rα participates in circadian rhythm regulation. The higher oxygen consumption in the light phase indicates adaptive thermogenesis in the knockout mice. The body temperature of the receptor knockout mice was significantly higher than the control in the light phase, and this was mainly caused by a large difference occurring between 0600 and 0900 h. In addition to the metabolic chamber studies and circadian rhythm analyses, qPCR of hypothalamic homogenates indicated higher mRNA expression of orexin and transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 cation channels. Consistent with a direct role of IL-15Rα in the hypothalamus, IL-15 treatment of the wild-type mice induced c-Fos expression in the preoptic area. We conclude that activation of hypothalamic neurons by IL-15 in mice contributes to thermoregulation and modifies the metabolic phenotype.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgement Supported by NIH (NS62291 and NS45751 to WP and DK54880 to AJK).
- Circadian rhythm
- Locomotor activity
- Temperature regulation