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J Immunol. 2009 Nov 15;183(10):6639-45. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902587. Epub 2009 Oct 28.

IL-22 produced by human NK cells inhibits growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by enhancing phagolysosomal fusion.

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  • 1Center for Pulmonary and Infectious Disease Control, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Health Center, Tyler, TX 75708-3154, USA.


We determined whether human NK cells could contribute to immune defenses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis through production of IL-22. CD3(-)CD56(+) NK cells produced IL-22 when exposed to autologous monocytes and gamma-irradiated M. tuberculosis, and this depended on the presence of IL-15 and IL-23, but not IL-12 or IL-18. IL-15-stimulated NK cells expressed 10.6 times more DAP10 mRNA compared with control NK cells, and DAP10 siRNA inhibited IL-15-mediated IL-22 production by NK cells. Soluble factors produced by IL-15-activated NK cells inhibited growth of M. tuberculosis in macrophages, and this effect was reversed by anti-IL-22. Addition of rIL-22 to infected macrophages enhanced phagolysosomal fusion and reduced growth of M. tuberculosis. We conclude that NK cells can contribute to immune defenses against M. tuberculosis through production of IL-22, which inhibits intracellular mycobacterial growth by enhancing phagolysosomal fusion. IL-15 and DAP-10 elicit IL-22 production by NK cells in response to M. tuberculosis.

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