There has been increasing recognition of the importance of cellular metabolism and metabolic substrates for the function and differentiation of immune cells. In this study, for the first time to our knowledge, we investigate the metabolic requirements for production of IFN-γ by freshly isolated NK cells. Primary murine NK cells mainly use mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation at rest and with short-term activation. Remarkably, we discovered significant differences in the metabolic requirements of murine NK cell IFN-γ production depending upon the activation signal. Stimulation of NK cell IFN-γ production was independent of glycolysis or mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation when cells were activated with IL-12 plus IL-18. By contrast, stimulation via activating NK receptors required glucose-driven oxidative phosphorylation. Prolonged treatment with high-dose, but not low-dose, IL-15 eliminated the metabolic requirement for receptor stimulation. In summary, this study demonstrates that metabolism provides an essential second signal for induction of IFN-γ production by activating NK cell receptors that can be reversed with prolonged high-dose IL-15 treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1954-1962
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2015


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