TRAIL+ NK Cells Control CD4+ T Cell Responses during Chronic Viral Infection to Limit Autoimmunity

Iona S Schuster, Matthew E Wikstrom, Geraldine Brizard, Jerome D Coudert, Marie J. Estcourt, Mitali Manzur, Lorraine A O'Reilly, Mark J. Smyth, Joseph A. Trapani, Geoffrey R Hill, Christopher E Andoniou, Mariapia A Degli-Esposti

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146 Citations (Scopus)


Natural killer (NK) cells have been reported to control adaptive immune responses that occur in lymphoid organs at the early stages of immune challenge. Thephysiological purpose of such regulatory activity remains unclear, because it generally does not confera survival advantage. We found that NK cells specifically eliminated activated CD4+ Tcells in the salivary gland during chronic murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection. This was dependent on TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) expression by NK cells. Although NK cell-mediated deletion of CD4+ Tcells prolonged the chronicity of infection, it also constrained viral-induced autoimmunity. In the absence of this activity, chronic infection was associated with a Sjogren's-like syndrome characterized by focal lymphocytic infiltration into the glands, production of autoantibodies, and reduced saliva and tear secretion. Thus, NK cells are an important homeostatic control that balances the efficacy of adaptive immune responses with the risk of developing autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-656
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

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