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J Immunol. 2004 Jul 1;173(1):259-66.

Expansion and contraction of the NK cell compartment in response to murine cytomegalovirus infection.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Graduate Program in Pathobiology, Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.

Abstract

NK cells are capable of responding quickly to infectious challenge and contribute to the early defense against a wide variety of pathogens. Although the innate NK cell response to murine CMV (MCMV) has been extensively characterized, its resolution and the fate of the activated NK cell population remains unexplored. Herein, we characterize both the expansion and contraction phases of the NK cell response to MCMV. We demonstrate that NK cell recruitment into the immune response to MCMV infection is restricted to the first 3 days of infection and as the peripheral NK cell compartment expands, NK cells undergo accelerated phenotypic maturation. During the resolution of the immune response, NK cell compartmental contraction is marked by the selective death of responding NK cells. Additionally, throughout the infection, a naive NK cell pool that remains responsive to additional stimuli is actively maintained. These findings illustrate the plasticity of the NK cell compartment in response to pathogens and underscore the homeostatic maintenance of the resting peripheral NK cell pool.

PMID:
15210783
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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