University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


NK cells controlling virus-specific T cells: Rheostats for acute vs. persistent infections

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Department of Pathology

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Acute Disease; Animals; Chronic Disease; Herpesviridae Infections; Humans; Immunity, Humoral; Immunity, Innate; Immunomodulation; Killer Cells, Natural; Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis; Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus; Mice; Muromegalovirus; Receptors, Natural Killer Cell; T-Lymphocytes


Immunology of Infectious Disease | Immunopathology | Virology


Viral infections characteristically induce a cytokine-driven activated natural killer (NK) cell response that precedes an antigen-driven T cell response. These NK cells can restrain some but not all viral infections by attacking virus-infected cells and can thereby provide time for an effective T cell response to mobilize. Recent studies have revealed an additional immunoregulatory role for the NK cells, where they inhibit the size and functionality of the T cell response, regardless of whether the viruses are themselves sensitive to NK cells. This subsequent change in T cell dynamics can alter patterns of immunopathology and persistence and implicates NK cells as rheostat-like regulators of persistent infections.

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Citation: Virology. 2013 Jan 5;435(1):37-45. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2012.10.005. Link to article on publisher's website

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