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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Synergistic proliferation and activation of natural killer cells by interleukin 12 and interleukin 18.

We investigated the effects of IL-12 and IL-18 on unstimulated murine splenocytes and observed that the two cytokines strongly synergized for their proliferation, whereas IL-12 and IL-18 alone were essentially inactive in this respect. Phenotypical and functional analyses of cells proliferating in response to IL-12 and IL-18 revealed that large granular Ly-49C(+)DX5(+)CD3(-)NK blasts were expanded in these cultures and that they displayed cytotoxic activity against Yac-1 cells, a murine NK cell target. Further analyses indicated three major differences between NK cells appearing in response to IL-12 and IL-18 and those derived in the presence of other NK cell growth factors, such as IL-2 or IL-15. First, a population of T-NK cells, i.e. expressing T cell (TCRalphabeta, CD3) and NK cell ( Ly-49) markers, was detected amongst cells growing in IL-2 or IL-15 but not in cultures supplemented with IL-12 and IL-18. Second, most NK cells derived with IL-2 or IL-15 expressed the NK1.1 antigen, while those derived with IL-12 and IL-18 did not. Finally, striking differences were observed regarding cytokine production. Cells stimulated with IL-12 and IL-18 in combination, but not with IL-2 or IL-15, produced IFN-gamma, IL-3, IL-6 and TNF. IFN-gamma was not involved in the response of NK cells to IL-12 and IL-18, as indicated by experiments demonstrating that the combination of the two cytokines displayed similar effects on spleen cells from IFN-gammaR-knock-out mice. Receptor (IL-12Rbeta1, IL-12Rbeta2 and IL-18R) gene expression studies did not indicate that the mechanism underlying the synergy between IL-12 and IL-18 involved reciprocal induction of their receptors. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IL-12 and IL-18 exert striking synergistic activities for NK cell proliferation and activation, distinct from those induced by IL-2 or IL-15.[1]


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