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J Neurol Sci. 2013 Aug 15;331(1-2):86-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2013.05.015. Epub 2013 Jun 10.

NK cells and their receptors in naive and rituximab-treated patients with anti-MAG polyneuropathy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Osp. S. Andrea, La Spezia, Italy.



Natural killer (NK) cells can bridge innate and acquired immunity, and play a role in autoimmunity. A few studies evaluated the distribution of NK cells and the expression of their receptors in chronic immune-mediated demyelinating polyneuropathies. We investigated NK cell distribution and NK cell receptor expression in 20 naïve patients with anti-MAG polyneuropathy (MAG-PN).


Using flow cytometry, we analysed NK cells and a series of NK cell receptors in the peripheral blood of patients with MAG-PN, and, as controls, in patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating peripheral polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) and in healthy subjects. Six MAG-PN patients were also tested after rituximab treatment.


At baseline the percentage of NK cells did not differ among the groups. KIR2DL2 receptor expression in MAG-PN patients was higher, andCD94/NKG2A receptor expression in both MAG-PN and CIDP patients was lower than in healthy controls. These abnormalities did not correlate with any clinical or demographic variable. No modification was found after rituximab therapy.


The data suggest that MAG-PN shows abnormalities in NK cell receptors that characterise other autoimmune diseases, and cannot help in differential diagnosis with CIDP. The impairment of the relevant CD94/NKG2A inhibitory pathway, which might play a central role in the development and perpetuation of MAG-PN, warrants further functional investigations.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Anti-MAG antibodies; CD94/NKG2A; IgM; Monoclonal gammopathy; Myelin associated glycoprotein; Natural killer (NK) cells; Rituximab

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