It is not yet clear whether immature NK (iNK) cells are bystanders to or rather participate in immune responses to pathogens that may colocalize in areas of NK-cell maturation such as bone marrow or lymph nodes. Mycobacteria, including Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), have been shown to interact with peripheral NK cells and in vivo may colocalize in areas of iNK-cell development. We studied infection with BCG of human cord blood CD34+Lin--derived cultures containing myelomonocytes and iNK cells in vitro. Increased iNK-cell DNAM-1 expression, transient natural cytotoxicity receptor modulation, and production of IFN-γ were observed. Transcriptional receptor modulation was associated to BCG challenge, which determined increased iNK-cell cytotoxic activity against tumor cell lines and also increased killing of immature dendritic cells (iDCs). No requirement for cell contact was recorded for BCG-induced iNK-cell activation, while cytokine production including IL-18, IL-10, GM-CSF, and TGF-β contributed to the observed effects. Thus, iNK cells are affected by mycobacteria in vitro and may contribute to shaping of adaptive mature innate responses through iDC-iNK cross-talk. In addition, iNK-cell activation by BCG may represent a novel additional mechanism contributing to the effects observed upon BCG administration in vivo.
- Maturing NK cell
- Natural cytotoxicity receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy