Natural killer cells protect mice from DSS-induced colitis by regulating neutrophil function via the NKG2A receptor

L. J. Hall, C. T. Murphy, A. Quinlan, G. Hurley, F. Shanahan, K. Nally, S. Melgar

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Natural killer (NK) cells are traditionally considered in the context of tumor surveillance and infection defense but their role in chronic inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease is less clear. Here, we investigated the role of NK cells in dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis in mice. Depletion of NK cells impairs the survival of mice with colitis and is linked with dramatic increases in colonic damage, leukocyte infiltration, and pro-inflammatory profiles. Mice depleted of NK cells had increased numbers of neutrophils in colons and mesenteric lymph nodes, compared with control mice, in addition to acquiring a hyper-activation status. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate that NK cells downregulate pro-inflammatory functions of activated neutrophils, including reactive oxygen species and cytokine production, by direct cell-to-cell contact involving the NK cell-inhibitory receptor NKG2A. Our results indicate an immunoregulatory mechanism of action of NK cells attenuating DSS-induced colitis neutrophil-mediated inflammation and tissue injury via NKG2A-dependent mechanisms.Mucosal Immunology advance online publication 23 January 2013; doi:10.1038/mi.2012.140.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1016-1026
Number of pages11
JournalMucosal Immunology
Issue number5
Early online date23 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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