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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 18;111(7):2704-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1315943111. Epub 2014 Feb 3.

Ischemic neurons recruit natural killer cells that accelerate brain infarction.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Key Laboratory of Neurorepair and Regeneration, Tianjin and Ministry of Education and Tianjin Neurological Institute, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin 300052, China.


Brain ischemia and reperfusion activate the immune system. The abrupt development of brain ischemic lesions suggests that innate immune cells may shape the outcome of stroke. Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that can be swiftly mobilized during the earliest phases of immune responses, but their role during stroke remains unknown. Herein, we found that NK cells infiltrated the ischemic lesions of the human brain. In a mouse model of cerebral ischemia, ischemic neuron-derived fractalkine recruited NK cells, which subsequently determined the size of brain lesions in a T and B cell-independent manner. NK cell-mediated exacerbation of brain infarction occurred rapidly after ischemia via the disruption of NK cell tolerance, augmenting local inflammation and neuronal hyperactivity. Therefore, NK cells catalyzed neuronal death in the ischemic brain.


innate immunity; ischemic stroke; middle cerebral artery occlusion

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