A human natural killer cell subset provides an innate source of IL-22 for mucosal immunity

Marina Cella, Anja Fuchs, William Vermi, Fabio Facchetti, Karel Otero, Jochen K.M. Lennerz, Jason M. Doherty, Jason C. Mills, Marco Colonna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

993 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells are classically viewed as lymphocytes that provide innate surveillance against virally infected cells and tumour cells through the release of cytolytic mediators and interferon (IFN)-γ. In humans, blood CD56dim NK cells specialize in the lysis of cell targets. In the lymph nodes, CD56bright NK cells secrete IFN-γ cooperating with dendritic cells and T cells in the generation of adaptive responses. Here we report the characterization of a human NK cell subset located in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues, such as tonsils and Peyerg's patches, which is hard-wired to secrete interleukin (IL)-22, IL-26 and leukaemia inhibitory factor. These NK cells, which we refer to as NK-22 cells, are triggered by acute exposure to IL-23. In vitro, NK-22-secreted cytokines stimulate epithelial cells to secrete IL-10, proliferate and express a variety of mitogenic and anti-apoptotic molecules. NK-22 cells are also found in mouse mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues and appear in the small intestine lamina propria during bacterial infection, suggesting that NK-22 cells provide an innate source of IL-22 that may help constrain inflammation and protect mucosal sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-725
Number of pages4
Issue number7230
StatePublished - Feb 5 2009


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