Activating and inhibitory receptors on natural killer cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosis-regulation with interleukin-15

Syh-Jae Lin, Ming-Ling Kuo, Hsiu-Shan Hsiao, Pei-Tzu Lee, Ji-Yih Chen, Jing-Long Huang
PloS One 2017, 12 (10): e0186223
Natural killer (NK) cells may play an important role in the pathogenesis of SLE. Interleukin(IL)-15, an NK-enhancing cytokine, is over-expressed in SLE patients. In the present study, we examined the effect of IL-15 on NK cytotoxicity of SLE patients, and the expression of various activating and inhibitory NK receptors on NK cells from SLE patients in relation to disease activity. We also sought to determine how IL-15 would affect the NK receptor expression on NK cells from SLE patients. PBMCs were collected from 88 SLE patients with inactive disease activity (SLEDAI score<6) and active disease activity (SLEDAI score≥6), 26 age-matched healthy adults were used as controls. PBMC were incubated in the presence or absence of IL-15 (10ng/ml) for eighteen hours. CD3-CD56+ lymphoctes were gated using flow cytometry and further divided into CD56dim and CD56bright subsets according to the MFI of CD56. We observed that 1. Serum IL-15 was elevated in SLE patients, and higher in active disease than in inactive disease; 2. NK cytotoxicity of SLE patients was deficient compared to controls and showed an impaired response to IL-15 compared to controls; 3.CD69, CD94, NKG2A, NKp30, and CD158b on NK cells from SLE patients were higher than controls, and could be further enhanced by IL-15; 4. NKp46 expression from SLE patients was higher than controls, but down-regulated by IL-15; 5.Deficient NKG2D and NKAT-2 expression were found on NK cells from SLE patients, which were enhanced by IL-15; 6. A unique NKp46- subset and CD158b+ subsets were observed in NK cells from SLE patients but not controls. 7. Unlike controls, CD158k on NK cells from SLE patients failed to respond to IL-15. Taken together, we demonstrated the aberrant NCR and iNKR expression on NK cells and their distinct response to IL-15 in SLE patients. As IL-15 predominantly aggravates the aberrant NKR expression found in SLE, IL-15 antagonist may have therapeutic benefits in SLE patients.

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