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J Immunol. 2003 Nov 15;171(10):5423-9.

Autocrine/paracrine IL-15 that is required for type I IFN-mediated dendritic cell expression of MHC class I-related chain A and B is impaired in hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Therapeutics, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


We previously reported that monocyte-derived dendritic cells activate resting NK cells by expressing MHC class I-related chain A and B (MICA/B), ligands for NKG2D, in response to IFN-alpha, but the MICA/B expression was severely impaired in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In the present study, we examined induction of MICA/B on DCs by various innate cytokines and found that DCs from either healthy donors or HCV-infected individuals, upon IL-15 stimulation, express MICA/B and can activate NK cells, which is solely dependent on MICA/B-NKG2D interaction. Of interest is the finding that IL-15- and type I IFN-mediated induction of MICA/B in healthy donors is completely inhibited when DCs are incubated in the presence of anti-IFN-alpha/betaR or anti-IL-15Ralpha, respectively, suggesting interdependent roles of these cytokines in MICA/B expression. Indeed, DCs produced IL-15 in response to type I IFN, whereas they directly produced IFN-beta, in response to IL-15, which was followed by the production of IFN-alpha. In HCV-infected individuals, type I IFN-mediated production of IL-15 was virtually absent, but IL-15-mediated production of type I IFN was not compromised, which is consistent with the distinct ability of these cytokines to induce MICA/B in these patients. The present study demonstrates that IL-15 and type I IFN lead to DC expression of MICA/B and subsequent DC activation of NK cells, which is critically dependent on each other's autocrine/paracrine effect, and suggests that impaired IL-15 production is one of the mechanisms of the aberrant response of DC to type I IFN in HCV-infected patients.

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