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The characteristics of NK cells in Schistosoma japonicum-infected mouse spleens


Natural killer (NK) cells are classic innate immune cells that play roles in many types of infectious disease. Recently, some new characteristics of NK cells were discovered. In this study, C57BL/6 mice were infected with Schistosoma japonicum for 5–6 weeks and lymphocytes were isolated from the spleen to detect some of the NK cell characteristics by multiparametric flow cytometry. The results revealed that the S. japonicum infection induced a large amount of NK cells, although the percentage of NK cells was not increased significantly. At the same time, the results showed that infected mouse splenic NK cells expressed increased levels of CD25 and CD69 and produced more IL-2, IL-4, and IL-17 and less IFN-γ after stimulation with PMA and ionomycin. This meant that NK cells played a role in S. japonicum infection. Moreover, decreased NKG2A/C/E (CD94) expression levels were detected on the surface of NK cells from infected mouse spleens, which might serve as a NK cell activation mechanism. Additionally, high levels of IL-10, but not PD-1, were expressed on the infected mouse NK cells, which implied that functional exhaustion might exist in the splenic NK cells from S. japonicum-infected mice. Collectively, our results suggest that NK cells play important roles in the course of S. japonicum infection.

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This work was supported by a grant that was obtained from the College Scientific Research Projects in Guangzhou City (2012C117).

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Correspondence to Nuo Dong or Jun Huang.

Additional information

Lu Li, Hefei Cha and Xiuxue Yu contributed equally to this work.

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Li, L., Cha, H., Yu, X. et al. The characteristics of NK cells in Schistosoma japonicum-infected mouse spleens. Parasitol Res 114, 4371–4379 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-015-4674-x

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  • Schistosoma japonicum
  • Spleen
  • NK cell