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Free Content Expansion of 2B4+ natural killer (NK) cells and decrease in NKp46+ NK cells in response to influenza

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Several studies have highlighted the importance of murine natural killer (NK) cells in the control of influenza virus infection, notably through the natural cytotoxicity receptor NKp46. However, little is known about the involvement of NK cells in human influenza infection. Here, we show that upon in vitro exposure to influenza, NKp46 expression on NK cells decreases, whereas expression of 2B4, an activating receptor that can enhance natural cytotoxicity in synergy with NKp46, is up-regulated. Consistent with these observations, NKp46dull and 2B4bright NK cells had a higher functional activity in response to influenza than NK cells expressing high levels of NKp46 or low levels of 2B4, respectively. Importantly, we assessed whether the expression of these receptors was also modified in vivo in response to influenza antigens and showed that an increase in 2B4-expressing NK cells and a decrease in NKp46+ NK cells occurred following intramuscular influenza vaccination. Altogether, our results further suggest that NKp46 may play an important role in the innate immune response to human influenza and reveal that exposure to influenza antigens is associated with a previously unrecognized increase in 2B4 expression that can impact NK cell activity against the virus.
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Keywords: 2B4; NKp46; influenza; innate immunity; natural killer cells

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Boston, MA 2: Center for Biostatistics in AIDS Research (CBAR), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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