NK Cell-Derived IFN-γ Protects against Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Infection.
David M. Ojcius: 0000-0003-1461-4495
Journal of Immunology
In developed countries, pulmonary nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections are more prevalent than Mycobacterium tuberculosisinfections. Given the differences in the pathogenesis of NTM and M. tuberculosis infections, separate studies are needed to investigate the pathological effects of NTM pathogens. Our previous study showed that anti-IFN-γ autoantibodies are detected in NTM-infected patients. However, the role of NK cells and especially NK cell-derived IFN-γ in this context has not been studied in detail. In the current study, we show that NK1.1 cell depletion increases bacterial load and mortality in a mouse model of pulmonary NTM infection. NK1.1 cell depletion exacerbates NTM-induced pathogenesis by reducing macrophage phagocytosis, dendritic cell development, cytokine production, and lung granuloma formation. Similar pathological phenomena are observed in IFN-γ-deficient (IFN-γ-/-) mice following NTM infection, and adoptive transfer of wild-type NK cells into IFN-γ-/- mice considerably reduces NTM pathogenesis. Injection of rIFN-γ also prevents NTM-induced pathogenesis in IFN-γ-/- mice. We observed that NK cells represent the main producers of IFN-γ in the lungs and production starts as soon as 1 d postinfection. Accordingly, injection of rIFN-γ into IFN-γ-/- mice 1 d (but not 2 wk) postinfection significantly improves immunity against NTM infection. NK cells also stimulate mycobacterial killing and IL-12 production by macrophages. Our results therefore indicate that IFN-γ production by NK cells plays an important role in activating and enhancing innate and adaptive immune responses at early stages of pulmonary NTM infection.
Ojcius, D. M.,
Young, J. D.,
NK Cell-Derived IFN-γ Protects against Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Infection..
Journal of Immunology, 201(5), 1478–1490.