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J Innate Immun. 2017;9(5):511-525. doi: 10.1159/000477172. Epub 2017 Jun 21.

Combined Stimulation with Interleukin-18 and Interleukin-12 Potently Induces Interleukin-8 Production by Natural Killer Cells.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster Immunology Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


The combination of interleukin (IL)-18 and IL-12 (IL-18+IL-12) potently stimulates natural killer (NK) cells, triggering an innate immune response to infections and cancers. Strategies exploiting the effects of IL-18+IL-12 have shown promise for cancer immunotherapy. However, studies have primarily characterized the NK cell response to IL-18+IL-12 in terms of interferon (IFN)-γ production, with little focus on other cytokines produced. IL-8 plays a critical role in activating and recruiting immune cells, but it also has tumor-promoting functions. IL-8 is classically produced by regulatory NK cells; however, cytotoxic NK cells do not typically produce IL-8. In this study, we uncover that stimulation with IL-18+IL-12 induces high levels of IL-8 production by ex vivo expanded and freshly isolated NK cells and NK cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We further report that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, produced by NK cells following IL-18+IL-12 stimulation, regulates IL-8 production. The IL-8 produced is in turn required for maximal IFN-γ and TNF-α production. These findings may have important implications for the immune response to infections and cancer immunotherapies. This study broadens our understanding of NK cell function and IL-18+IL-12 synergy by uncovering an unprecedented ability of IL-18+IL-12-activated peripheral blood NK cells to produce elevated levels of IL-8 and identifying the requirement for intermediates induced by IL-18+IL-12 for maximal cytokine production following stimulation.


Cytokines; Immunotherapy; Innate immunity; Natural killer cells

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