Human NK cells adapt their immune response towards increasing multiplicities of infection of Aspergillus fumigatus

BMC Immunol. 2018 Dec 18;19(1):39. doi: 10.1186/s12865-018-0276-6.


Background: The saprophytic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus reproduces by generation of conidia, which are spread by airflow throughout nature. Since humans are inhaling certain amounts of spores every day, the (innate) immune system is constantly challenged. Even though macrophages and neutrophils carry the main burden, also NK cells are regarded to contribute to the antifungal immune response. While NK cells reveal a low frequency, expression and release of immunomodulatory molecules seem to be a natural way of their involvement.

Results: In this study we show, that NK cells secrete chemokines such as CCL3/MIP-1α, CCL4/MIP-1β and CCL5/RANTES early on after stimulation with Aspergillus fumigatus and, in addition, adjust the concentration of chemokines released to the multiplicity of infection of Aspergillus fumigatus.

Conclusions: These results further corroborate the relevance of NK cells within the antifungal immune response, which is regarded to be more and more important in the development and outcome of invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Additionally, the correlation between the multiplicity of infection and the expression and release of chemokines shown here may be useful in further studies for the quantification and/or surveillance of the NK cell involvement in antifungal immune responses.

Keywords: Aspergillosis; Aspergillus fumigatus; CCL4; Chemokines; MIP-1β; Multiplicity of infection; NK cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Aspergillosis / immunology*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / immunology*
  • Chemokine CCL3 / blood*
  • Chemokine CCL4 / blood*
  • Chemokine CCL5 / blood*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lung / immunology


  • CCL3 protein, human
  • CCL4 protein, human
  • CCL5 protein, human
  • Chemokine CCL3
  • Chemokine CCL4
  • Chemokine CCL5