Cells, Vol. 10, Pages 2551: NK Cell Patterns in Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathies with Pulmonary Affection
Sven G. Meuth
Background: Pulmonary affection (PA) is associated with a substantial increase in morbidity and mortality in patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM). However, the underlying immune mechanisms of PA remain enigmatic and prompt deeper immunological analyses. Importantly, the Janus-faced role of natural killer (NK) cells, capable of pro-inflammatory as well as regulatory effects, might be of interest for the pathophysiologic understanding of PA in IIM. Methods: To extend our understanding of immunological alterations in IIM patients with PA, we compared the signatures of NK cells in peripheral blood using multi-color flow cytometry in IIM patients with (n = 12, of which anti-synthetase syndrome = 8 and dermatomyositis = 4) or without PA (n = 12). Results: We did not observe any significant differences for B cells, CD4, and CD8 T cells, while total NK cell numbers in IIM patients with PA were reduced compared to non-PA patients. NK cell alterations were driven by a particular decrease of CD56dim NK cells, while CD56bright NK cells remained unchanged. Comparisons of the cell surface expression of a large panel of NK receptors revealed an increased mean fluorescence intensity of NKG2D+ on NK cells from patients with PA compared with non-PA patients, especially on the CD56dim subset. NKG2D+ and NKp46+ cell surface levels were associated with reduced vital capacity, serving as a surrogate marker for clinical severity of PA. Conclusion: Our data illustrate that PA in IIM is associated with alterations of the NK cell repertoire, suggesting a relevant contribution of NK cells in certain IIMs, which might pave the way for NK cell-targeted therapeutic approaches.
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