Characterization of natural killer cells in the blood and airways of cynomolgus macaques during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

01 Feb 2023
Diedrich CR, Rutledge T, Baranowski TM, Maiello P, Lin PL


Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and kills more than 1.5 million people each year.


We examine the frequency and function of NK cells in the blood and airways over the course of Mtb infection in a TB macaque model and demonstrate differences in NK marker expression between the two compartments. Flow cytometry and intracellular cytokine staining were utilized to identify NK cell subsets (expressing NKG2A, CD56, or CD16) and function (IL-10, TNF, IL-2, IFN-g, IL-17, and CD107a).


Blood and airway NK cell frequencies were similar during infection though there were differences in subset populations between blood and airway. Increased functional (cytokine/CD107a) parameters were observed in airway NK cells during the course of infection while none were seen in the blood.


This study suggests that NK cells in the airway may play an important role in TB host response.