Antibacterial role for natural killer cells in host defense to Bacillus anthracis

Christine M. Gonzales, Courtney B. Williams, Veronica E. Calderon, Matthew Huante, Scott T. Moen, Vsevolod Popov, Wallace B. Baze, Johnny Peterson, Janice Endsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells have innate antibacterial activity that could be targeted for clinical interventions for infectious disease caused by naturally occurring or weaponized bacterial pathogens. To determine a potential role for NK cells in immunity to Bacillus anthracis, we utilized primary human and murine NK cells, in vitro assays, and in vivo NK cell depletion in a murine model of inhalational anthrax. Our results demonstrate potent antibacterial activity by human NK cells against B. anthracis bacilli within infected autologous monocytes. Surprisingly, NK cells also mediate moderate antibacterial effects on extracellular vegetative bacilli but do not have activity against extracellular or intracellular spores. The immunosuppressive anthrax lethal toxin impairs NK gamma interferon (IFN-γ) expression, but neither lethal nor edema toxin significantly alters the viability or cytotoxic effector function of NK cells. Compared to human NK cells, murine NK cells have a similar, though less potent, activity against intracellular and extracellular B. anthracis. The in vivo depletion of murine NK cells does not alter animal survival following intranasal infection with B. anthracis spores in our studies but significantly increases the bacterial load in the blood of infected animals. Our studies demonstrate that NK cells participate in the innate immune response against B. anthracis and suggest that immune modulation to augment NK cell function in early stages of anthrax should be further explored in animal models as a clinical intervention strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-242
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

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Bacillus anthracis
Natural Killer Cells
Anthrax
Spores
Bacillus
Bacterial Load
Immunosuppressive Agents
Innate Immunity
Human Activities
Interferon-gamma
Communicable Diseases
Monocytes
Immunity
Edema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this

Antibacterial role for natural killer cells in host defense to Bacillus anthracis. / Gonzales, Christine M.; Williams, Courtney B.; Calderon, Veronica E.; Huante, Matthew; Moen, Scott T.; Popov, Vsevolod; Baze, Wallace B.; Peterson, Johnny; Endsley, Janice.

In: Infection and Immunity, Vol. 80, No. 1, 01.2012, p. 234-242.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gonzales, Christine M. ; Williams, Courtney B. ; Calderon, Veronica E. ; Huante, Matthew ; Moen, Scott T. ; Popov, Vsevolod ; Baze, Wallace B. ; Peterson, Johnny ; Endsley, Janice. / Antibacterial role for natural killer cells in host defense to Bacillus anthracis. In: Infection and Immunity. 2012 ; Vol. 80, No. 1. pp. 234-242.
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