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J Immunol. 2004 Nov 15;173(10):6072-81.

Negative regulation of NK cell activities by inhibitory receptor CD94/NKG2A leads to altered NK cell-induced modulation of dendritic cell functions in chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Therapeutics, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Yamadaoka 2-2, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


NK cells are potent activators of dendritic cells (DCs), but it remains obscure how third-party cells affect the ability of NK cells to modulate DC functions. We show here that NK cells derived from healthy donors (N-NK), when cocultured with human liver epithelial cells, induced maturation as well as activation of DCs, such as increased migratory capacity as well as T cell stimulatory activity. In contrast, NK cells from chronic hepatitis C virus-infected donors (HCV-NK) were not capable of activating DCs under the same conditions. In comparison to N-NK, HCV-NK showed higher expression of CD94/NKG2A and produced IL-10 and TGFbeta when cultured with hepatic cells, most of which express HLA-E, a ligand for CD94/NKG2A. Blockade of NKG2A restored the ability of HCV-NK to activate DCs, which appeared to result from the reduced NK cell production of IL-10 and TGFbeta. The blockade also endowed HCV-NK with an ability to drive DCs to generate Th1-polarized CD4+ T cells. These findings show that NK cell modulation of DCs is regulated by third-party cells through NK receptor and its ligand interaction. Aberrant expression of NK receptors may have an impact on the magnitude and direction of DC activation of T cells under pathological conditions, such as chronic viral infection.

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