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J Exp Med. 1997 Nov 17;186(10):1677-87.

Regulation of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by natural killer (NK) cells.

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  • 1Department of Demyelinating Disease and Aging, National Institute of Neuroscience, Tokyo, Japan.


In this report, we establish a regulatory role of natural killer (NK) cells in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a prototype T helper cell type 1 (Th1)-mediated disease. Active sensitization of C57BL/6 (B6) mice with the myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)35-55 peptide induces a mild form of monophasic EAE. When mice were deprived of NK cells by antibody treatment before immunization, they developed a more serious form of EAE associated with relapse. Aggravation of EAE by NK cell deletion was also seen in beta 2-microglobulin-/- (beta 2m-/-) mice, indicating that NK cells can play a regulatory role in a manner independent of CD8+ T cells or NK1.1+ T cells (NK-T cells). The disease enhancement was associated with augmentation of T cell proliferation and production of Th1 cytokines in response to MOG35-55. EAE passively induced by the MOG35-55-specific T cell line was also enhanced by NK cell deletion in B6, beta 2m-/-, and recombination activation gene 2 (RAG-2)-/- mice, indicating that the regulation by NK cells can be independent of T, B, or NK-T cells. We further showed that NK cells inhibit T cell proliferation triggered by antigen or cytokine stimulation. Taken together, we conclude that NK cells are an important regulator for EAE in both induction and effector phases.

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