Veterinary research communications

NCR1+ cells in dogs show phenotypic characteristics of natural killer cells.

PMID 25434421


No specific markers for natural killer (NK) cells in dogs have currently been described. NCR1 (NKp46, CD355) has been considered a pan species NK cell marker and is expressed on most or all NK cells in all species investigated except for the pig which has both a NCR1(+) and a NCR1(-) population. In this study peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 14 healthy dogs, 37 dogs with a clinical diagnosis, including a dog diagnosed with LGL leukemia, and tissue samples from 8 dogs were evaluated for NCR1(+) expression by a cross reacting anti bovine NCR1 antibody. CD3(-)NCR1(+) cells were found in the blood of 93 % of healthy dogs and comprised up to 2.5 % of lymphocytes in PBMC. In a selection of healthy dogs, sampling and immunophenotyping were repeated throughout a period of 1 year revealing a substantial variation in the percentage of CD3(-)NCR1(+) over time. Dogs allocated to 8 disease groups had comparable amounts of CD3(-)NCR1(+) cells in PBMC to the healthy individuals. All organs examined including liver, spleen and lymph nodes contained CD3(-)NCR1(+) cells. Circulating CD3(-)NCR1(+) cells were further characterized as CD56(-)GranzymeB(+)CD8(-). A CD3(+)NCR1(+) population was observed in PBMC in 79 % of the healthy dogs examined representing at the most 4.8 % of the lymphocyte population. In canine samples examined for CD56 expression, CD56(+) cells were all CD3(+) and NCR1(-). To our knowledge, this is the first examination of NCR1 expression in the dog. The study shows that this NK cell associated receptor is expressed both on populations of CD3(+) and CD3(-) blood lymphocytes in dogs and the receptor is found on a CD3(+) GranzymeB(+) CD8(+) leukemia. Our results support that CD56 is expressed only on CD3(+) cells in dogs and shows that NCR1 defines a different CD3(+) lymphocyte population than CD56(+)CD3(+) cells in this species. CD3(-)NCR1(+) cells may represent canine NK cells.