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Blood. 2008 Sep 1;112(5):1776-83. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-02-135871. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Human natural killer cells exposed to IL-2, IL-12, IL-18, or IL-4 differently modulate priming of naive T cells by monocyte-derived dendritic cells.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy.


Dendritic cells (DCs) play a crucial role in naive T-cell priming. Recent data suggested that natural killer (NK) cells can influence the capability of DCs to promote Th1 polarization. This regulatory function is primarily mediated by cytokines released in the microenvironment during inflammatory responses involving NK cells. In this study, we show that human NK cells exposed for short time to interleukin (IL)-12, IL-2, or IL-18, promote distinct pathways of Th1 priming. IL-12- or IL-2-conditioned NK cells induce maturation of DCs capable of priming IFN-gamma-producing Th1 cells. On the other hand, IL-18-conditioned NK cells induce Th1 polarization only when cocultured with both DCs and T cells. In this case, IL-2 released by T cells and IL-12 derived from DCs during the priming process promote interferon (IFN)-gamma production. In contrast, when NK cells are exposed to IL-4, nonpolarized T cells releasing only low levels of IL-2 are generated. Thus, the prevalence of IL-12, IL-2, IL-18, or IL-4 at inflammatory sites may differentially modulate the NK-cell interaction with DCs, leading to different outcomes in naive T-cell polarization.

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