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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 22;8(4):e62237. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062237. Print 2013.

A one year follow-up study of natural killer and dendritic cells activities in multiple sclerosis patients receiving glatiramer acetate (GA).

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Department of Physiology, Institute of Medical Basal Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory, demyelinating and neurodegenerative disease. It is thought to be mediated by CD4(+) Th1/Th17 cells. More recently, cells of the innate immune system such as dendritic cells (DCs) and natural killer (NK) cells have been in focus. Glatiramer acetate (GA) is an approved drug for treating MS patients.


In the current study we examined the activities of NK and DCs in nine relapsing remitting MS patients for up to one year after initiation of GA treatment. We observed that NK cells isolated from most of these patients have increased cytotoxic activity against K562 cells. Further analysis showed that the same NK cells lysed both autologous immature (i) and mature (m) DCs. In most patients this increased activity was correlated with increased NK cell activating cytotoxicity receptors such as NKp30, NKp44, NKp46 and NKG2D, and reduced expression of the inhibitory molecule CD158 on the surface of these NK cells. The expression of HLA-DR was increased on iDCs and mDCs in the majority of the patients, but no consistency was observed for the expression of HLA-I or HLA-E. Also, the co-stimulatory receptors CD80, CD83 or CD86 expression was down-regulated on iDCs and mDCs in most cases. Further, the expression of CCR6 was increased on mDCs at later time points of therapy (between 32-48 weeks).


Our results are the first showing the effects of GA treatment on NK cells in MS patients, which may impact future use of this and other drugs to treat this disease.

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