Natural killer cells modulate motor neuron-immune cell cross talk in models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Stefano Garofalo, Germana Cocozza, Alessandra Porzia, Maurizio Inghilleri, Marcello Raspa, Ferdinando Scavizzi, Eleonora Aronica, Giovanni Bernardini, Ling Peng, Richard M Ransohoff, Angela Santoni, Cristina Limatola

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Abstract

In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), immune cells and glia contribute to motor neuron (MN) degeneration. We report the presence of NK cells in post-mortem ALS motor cortex and spinal cord tissues, and the expression of NKG2D ligands on MNs. Using a mouse model of familial-ALS, hSOD1G93A, we demonstrate NK cell accumulation in the motor cortex and spinal cord, with an early CCL2-dependent peak. NK cell depletion reduces the pace of MN degeneration, delays motor impairment and increases survival. This is confirmed in another ALS mouse model, TDP43A315T. NK cells are neurotoxic to hSOD1G93A MNs which express NKG2D ligands, while IFNγ produced by NK cells instructs microglia toward an inflammatory phenotype, and impairs FOXP3+/Treg cell infiltration in the spinal cord of hSOD1G93A mice. Together, these data suggest a role of NK cells in determining the onset and progression of MN degeneration in ALS, and in modulating Treg recruitment and microglia phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1773
JournalNat. Commun.
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 14 2020

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