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Cell Biology International (2003) 27, 845–851 (Printed in Great Britain)
Interleukin-15 increases myosin accretion in human skeletal myogenic cultures
Paul S Furmanczyka and LeBris S Quinnbc*
aUniversity of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
bDivision of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
cGeriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, 151 American Lake Division, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Tacoma, WA 98493, USA


Interleukin-15 (IL-15) has been shown to have anabolic effects on skeletal muscle in rodent studies conducted in vitro and in vivo. The mechanism of IL-15 action on muscle appears to be distinct from that of the well-characterized muscle anabolic factor insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IL-15 action has not been investigated in a human culture system nor in detail in primary skeletal myogenic cells. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of IL-15 and IGF-I in primary human skeletal myogenic cells. Accretion of a major myofibrillar protein, myosin heavy chain (MHC), was used as a measure of muscle anabolism. We found that both growth factors induced increases in MHC accretion in primary human skeletal myogenic cultures; however, IL-15 and IGF-I actions were temporally distinct. IL-15 was more effective at stimulating MHC accretion when added to cultures after differentiation of myoblasts had occurred. In contrast, IGF-I was more effective at stimulating MHC accretion when added to cultures prior to differentiation of myoblasts. These results using a human system support recent findings from rodent models which indicate that the primary mode of IGF-I action on skeletal muscle anabolism is through stimulation of myogenic precursor cells, whereas the primary target of IL-15 action is the differentiated muscle fiber. Further, since clinical and experimental studies have shown IGF-I is not effective in preventing skeletal muscle wasting, the distinct mode of action of IL-15 suggests it may be of potential usefulness in the treatment of muscle wasting disorders.

Key words: Interleukin-15, Insulin-like growth factor-I, Skeletal muscle, Cytokines, Anabolism, Hypertrophy, Atrophy, Myoblasts, Myotubes, Muscle fibers.

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-253-582-8440x76724; fax: +1-253-589-4004

Received 24 February 2003/2 June 2003; accepted 14 July 2003


ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)