Porcine CD8αdim/-NKp46high NK cells are in a highly activated state

Vet Res. 2013 Mar 1;44(1):13. doi: 10.1186/1297-9716-44-13.


Natural Killer (NK) cells play a crucial role in the early phase of immune responses against various pathogens. In swine so far only little information about this lymphocyte population exists. Phenotypical analyses with newly developed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against porcine NKp46 recently revealed that in blood NKp46- and NKp46+ cells with NK phenotype exist with comparable cytotoxic properties. In spleen a third NKp46-defined population with NK phenotype was observed that was characterised by a low to negative CD8α and increased NKp46 expression. In the current study it is shown that this NKp46high phenotype was correlated with an increased expression of CD16 and CD27 compared to the CD8α+NKp46- and NKp46+ NK-cell subsets in spleen and blood. Additionally NKp46high NK cells expressed elevated levels of the chemokine receptor CXCR3 on mRNA level. Functional analyses revealed that splenic NKp46high NK cells produced much higher levels of Interferon-γ and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α upon stimulation with cytokines or phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate/Ionomycin compared to the other two subsets. Furthermore, cross-linking of NKp46 by NKp46-specific mAbs led to a superior CD107a expression in the NKp46high NK cells, thus indicating a higher cytolytic capacity of this subset. Therefore porcine splenic NKp46high NK cells represent a highly activated subset of NK cells and may play a profound role in the immune surveillance of this organ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Ionomycin / pharmacology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 1 / immunology*
  • Phorbol Esters / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Spleen / immunology*
  • Sus scrofa / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 1
  • Phorbol Esters
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Ionomycin
  • 12-O-retinoylphorbol-13-acetate
  • Interferon-gamma