A distinct subset of human NK cells expressing HLA-DR expand in response to IL-2 and can aid immune responses to BCG

J. Henry Evans*, Amir Horowitz, Maryam Mehrabi, Emma L. Wise, James E. Pease, Eleanor M. Riley, Daniel M. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Subsets of NK cells can have distinct functions. Here, we report that >25% of human peripheral blood NK cells express HLA-DR after culture with IL-2. This can be driven by an expansion of a small subset of NK cells expressing HLA-DR, in contrast to previous assumptions that HLA-DR is upregulated on previously negative cells. HLA-DR-expressing NK cells showed enhanced degranulation to susceptible target cells and expressed chemokine receptor CXCR3, which facilitated their enrichment following exposure to CXCL11/I-TAC. Suggesting HLA-DR-expressing NK cells have an important role in an immune response, stimulation of PBMCs with Mycobacterium bovis BCG (BCG) triggered expansion of this subset. Importantly, the magnitude of an individual's NK cell IFN-γ response triggered by BCG was associated with the initial frequency of HLA-DR-expressing NK cells in PBMCs. More directly indicating the importance of HLA-DR-expressing NK cells, enriching the frequency of this subset in PBMCs substantially augmented the IFN-γ response to BCG. Thus, HLA-DR expression marks a distinct subset of NK cells, present at low frequency in circulating blood but readily expanded by IL-2, that can play an important role during immune responses to BCG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1933
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cellular crosstalk
  • HLA-DR
  • IL-2
  • Immune responses
  • NK cells

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