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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51230. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051230. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

Mouse lung and spleen natural killer cells have phenotypic and functional differences, in part influenced by macrophages.

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  • 1Laboratory of Immunogenetics and Allergology, Centre de Recherche Public de la Santé, Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2013;8(1). doi:10.1371/annotation/93791c32-5d2e-4fbc-bd74-ba219c1bd79a.


NK cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune system which are a first line of defense against infections and tumor cells, in bone marrow and peripheral organs like lung and spleen. The lung is an organ in contact with respiratory pathogens and the site of inflammatory disorders triggered by the respiratory environment. In contrast, spleen is a lymphatic organ connected to the blood system which regulates the systemic immune response. Here we compare NK cell maturation and expansion as well as expression of NK cell receptors in spleen and lung compartments. We show that spleen and lung NK cells differ in phenotypic and functional characteristics due to a difference of maturity and cellular microenvironment. Indeed we observe that spleen and lung macrophages have the capacity to influence the cytotoxicity of NK cells by cell-to-cell contact. This suggests that the differences of NK cell subsets are in part due to a modulation by the organ environment.

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