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Rheumatol Int. 2004 Jul;24(4):212-6. Epub 2003 Jul 15.

Abnormal killer inhibitory receptor expression on natural killer cells in patients with Behçet's disease.

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Departments of Immunology and Medicine, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, 2-16-1 Sugao, Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 216-8511, Japan.


Viral infection has been assigned some role in the pathogenesis of Behçet's disease (BD). Defects in natural killer (NK) cell repertoire may be involved in impaired antiviral immunity, leading to the development of BD. We studied killer inhibitory receptor (KIR) expression in 40 patients with BD. CD94 and CD158b expression of NK cells was normal in a great majority of BD patients. NKB1 expression was reduced in eight and increased in six. Twelve of these 14 patients (86%) had severe eye disease. Some had reduced NKB1 and enhanced CD158a expression simultaneously, or enhanced NKB1 and reduced CD158a simultaneously, suggesting a skewed NK cell repertoire in BD. Collectively, KIR expression was abnormal in the BD patients with severe eye disease. This may result from genetic predisposition, or certain viruses may affect the KIR repertoire formation in BD patients. Abnormal KIR expression of NK cells may be associated with the development of BD.

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