Parasitology research

The quantitative and functional changes of NK cells in mice infected with Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

PMID 24667973


Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a neurotropic parasite which can cause injury to central nervous system and eosinophilic meningitis to human. Natural killer (NK) cells are specialized innate lymphocytes important in early defense against pathogens as in a variety of intracellular bacterial, viral, and protozoan infections. However, the number and function of NK cells in extracellular parasitic infection of A. cantonensis are unclear. In this study, on A. cantonensis infected mice which may mimic the human's infection, we found that the percentage of splenic NK cells and the absolute number of peripheral blood NK cells were decreased at 21-day post infection compared with that of controls. When administrating with albendazole treatment at early stage of the infection, the changes of NK cells could be avoided. Further analysis confirmed that the reduction of NK cells was due to their apoptosis manifested as increased expressions of annexin V and activated caspase-3 after 16-day post infection. Moreover, both activated and inhibitory receptors such as CD16, CD69, NKG2D, and Ly49a on NK cells were down-regulated after 16-day post infection. Interestingly, NK cells isolated from mice of 21-day post infection showed enhanced IFN-γ production when stimulated with IL-12 for 24xa0h and cytotoxicity to YAC-1 cells, as well as elevated CD107a expression. It is evident that NK cell population and its function were changed in A. cantonensis infected mice, suggesting their involvement in pathogenesis of the infection.