CD56(bright) NK cells, which may play a role in immunoregulation, are expanded in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients treated with immunomodulatory therapies such as daclizumab and interferon-beta (IFNβ). Yet, whether this NK cell subset is directly involved in the therapeutic effect is unknown. As NK receptor (NKR) expression by subsets of NK cells and CD8+ T lymphocytes is related to MS clinical course, we addressed whether CD56(bright) NK cells and NKR in IFNβ-treated MS patients differ according to the clinical response. IFNβ was associated to lower LILRB1+ and KIR+NK cells, and higher NKG2A+NK cell proportions, an immunophenotypic pattern mainly found in responders. After IFNβ treatment, a CD56(bright) NK cell expansion was significantly related to a positive clinical response. Our results reveal that IFNβ may promote in responders changes in the NK cell immunophenotype, corresponding to the profile found at early maturation stages of this lymphocyte lineage.
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