BACKGROUND: Human natural killer (NK) cells are thought to play a role in antiviral response and tumor immune surveillance. The molecular mechanisms of down regulation of NK-cell activity observed after red blood cell (RBC) transfusion is still undefined. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Both effects of blood transfusion (ex vivo) and supernatants (SNs) derived from RBC units unstored (RBC-0) or stored for 5 or 30 days (RBC-5 or -30, respectively) in vitro were analyzed on NK cell-mediated cytolytic activity. RESULTS: We have found that NK cells isolated from transfused patients on Day 3 lysed the NK-sensitive target cells K562 to a lesser extent than before transfusion. This down regulation of NK-cell activation was evident also for NK-cell killing mediated through the engagement of NK cell-activating receptors as NKG2D, NKp30, NKp46, and CD16. Transfused patients reacquired NK cell-mediated cytolytic activity from Day 5 to Day 7 after transfusion. SN from RBC-30, but not from RBC-0 or RBC-5, strongly inhibited the generation of lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells and lysis of the NK-resistant target cell Jurkat in a dose-dependent manner. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) blocking antibodies partially restored the generation of LAK activity. In addition, the depletion of both soluble Class I human leukocyte antigens (sHLA-I) and soluble Fas ligand (sFasL) from SN of RBC-30 completely restored the generation of LAK activity. CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, these findings would support the idea that blood transfusion-mediated down regulation of NK-cell activity is mediated by sHLA-I, sFasL, and TGF-β1.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy