Natural killer cells and T cells induce different types ofskin reactions during recall responses to haptens

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Abstract

The role of T cells in contact hypersensitivity (CHS) to haptens has been well described. However, recent reports demonstrated that CHS-like reactions to experimental haptens could be induced in mice deficient in T cells and B cells, as a result of adaptive-like features of NK cells. Here, we compared hapten-specific inflammatory reactions induced by memory T cells or NK cells. Classical CHS protocols were applied to WT or T- and B-cell deficient mice. Adoptive transfers of hapten-specific T cells and NK cells were also performed. Liver NK cells from hapten-primed mice induced specific recall responses to haptens upon transfer in CD3ε-deficient mice, thus confirming the existence of “memory” NK cells in the liver. We investigated the nature of the inflammation generated in these transfer conditions and found that hapten-induced skin inflammation mediated by CD8+ T cells or “memory” NK cells are different. Indeed, ear swelling induced by memory NK cells was transient and not associated with cellular infiltrate and inflammation markers, characteristic for T-cell-mediated responses. Thus, NK cells and T cells mediate distinct forms of skin inflammation. NK cell-mediated pathogenesis does not rely on cellular infiltrate and could be involved in atypical forms of adverse drug reactions.

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