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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 15;170(6):3054-8.

IgE-mediated activation of NK cells through Fc gamma RIII.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


NK cells express Fc gamma RIII (CD16), which is responsible for IgG-dependent cell cytotoxicity and for production of several cytokines and chemokines. Whereas Fc gamma RIII on NK cells is composed of both Fc gamma RIII alpha and FcR gamma chains, that on mast cells is distinct from NK cells and made of Fc gamma RIII alpha, FcR beta, and FcR gamma. Mast cells show degranulation and release several mediators, which cause anaphylactic responses upon cross-linking of Fc gamma RIII as well as Fc epsilon RI with aggregated IgE. In this paper, we examined whether IgE activates NK cells through Fc gamma RIII on their cell surface. We found that NK cells produce several cytokines and chemokines related to an allergic reaction upon IgE stimulation. Furthermore, NK cells exhibited cytotoxicity against IgE-coated target cells in an Fc gamma RIII-dependent manner. These effects of IgE through Fc gamma RIII were not observed in NK cells from FcR gamma-deficient mice lacking Fc gamma RIII expression. Collectively, these results demonstrate that NK cells can be activated with IgE through Fc gamma RIII and exhibit both cytokine/chemokine production and Ab-dependent cell cytotoxicity. These data imply that not only mast cells but also NK cells may contribute to IgE-mediated allergic responses.

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