Interleukin-1β costimulates interferon-γ production by human natural killer cells

Megan A. Cooper, Todd A. Fehniger, Anand Ponnappan, Veela Mehta, Mark D. Wewers, Michael A. Caligiuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells are an early source of immunoregulatory cytokines during the innate immune response to viruses, bacteria, and parasites. NK cells provide requisite IFN-γ to monocytes for the elimination of obligate intracellular pathogens. IL-1β is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced by monocytes (i.e. a monokine) during the early immune response to infection, but its role in promoting human NK cell IFN-γ production is unknown. The current study examines the ability of the monokine IL-1β, plus IL-12, to costimulate IFN-γ production by resting CD56bright and CD56dim human NK cell subsets. CD56bright NK cells stimulated with IL-1β plus IL-12 produced abundant IFN-γ protein, while little IFN-γ was produced in identical cultures of CD56dim cells. In addition, upon activation with IL-1β, CD56bright NK cells exhibited considerably greater phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases p42/44 as compared to CD56dim NK cells. Quantitative PCR analysis showed brisk induction of IFN-γ gene expression following costimulation with IL-1β plus IL-12 in CD56bright NK cells, but intracellular flow cytometry revealed that only a fraction (42±2.3%) of CD56bright NK cells account for this high IFN-γ production. These data suggest that the monokine IL-1β is a potent costimulus of IFN-γ production by a subset of NK cells following infectious insult.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-801
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Human
  • IFN-γ
  • IL-1β
  • Innate immunity
  • NK cell

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