Identification and analysis of natural killer cells in murine nasal passages

Kazunari Okada, Shintaro Sato, Ayuko Sato, Ofer Mandelboim, Tatsuya Yamasoba, Hiroshi Kiyono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Natural killer (NK) cells in the upper respiratory airways are not well characterized. In the current study, we sought to characterize and functionally assess murine nasal NK cells. Methods Using immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry, we compared the nasal NK cells of Ncr1GFP/+ knock-in mice, whose NK cells produced green fluorescent protein, with their splenic and pulmonary counterparts. In addition, we functionally analyzed the nasal NK cells of these mice in vitro. To assess the in vivo functions of nasal NK cells, C57BL/6 mice depleted of NK cells after treatment with PK136 antibody were nasally infected with influenza virus PR8. Results Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the presence of NK cells in the lamina propria of nasal mucosa, and flow cytometry showed that these cells were of NK cell lineage. The expression patterns of Ly49 receptor, CD11b/CD27, CD62L and CD69 revealed that nasal NK cells had an immature and activated phenotype compared with that of their splenic and pulmonary counterparts. Effector functions including degranulation and IFN(interferon)-β production after in vitro stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate-13-acetate plus ionomycin or IL(interleukin)-12 plus IL-18 were dampened in nasal NK cells, and the depletion of NK cells led to an increased influenza virus titer in nasal passages. Conclusions The NK cells of the murine nasal passage belong to the conventional NK cell linage and characteristically demonstrate an immature and activated phenotype. Despite their hyporesponsiveness in vitro, nasal NK cells play important roles in the host defense against nasal influenza virus infection.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0142920
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Okada et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source arecredited.


Dive into the research topics of 'Identification and analysis of natural killer cells in murine nasal passages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this