Cytomegalovirus reactivation after allogeneic transplantation promotes a lasting increase in educated NKG2C+ natural killer cells with potent function.

Blood
Bree FoleyJeffrey S Miller

Abstract

During mouse cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, a population of Ly49H(+) natural killer (NK) cells expands and is responsible for disease clearance through the induction of a "memory NK-cell response." Whether similar events occur in human CMV infection is unknown. In the present study, we characterized the kinetics of the NK-cell response to CMV reactivation in human recipients after hematopoietic cell transplantation. During acute infection, NKG2C(+) NK cells expanded and were potent producers of IFNγ. NKG2C(+) NK cells predominately expressed killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor, and self-killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors were required for robust IFNγ production. During the first year after transplantation, CMV reactivation induced a more mature phenotype characterized by an increase in CD56(dim) NK cells. Strikingly, increased frequencies of NKG2C(+) NK cells persisted and continued to increase in recipients who reactivated CMV, whereas these cells remained at low frequency in recipients without CMV reactivation. Persisting NKG2C(+) NK cells lacked NKG2A, expressed CD158b, preferentially acquired CD57, and were potent producers of IFNγ during the first year after transplantation. Recipients who reactivated CMV als...Continue Reading

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