• NK cells;
  • innate immunity;
  • liver transplant;
  • NKG2D

Pham B, Piard-Ruster K, Silva R, Gallo A, Esquivel CO, Martinez OM, Krams SM. Changes in natural killer cell subsets in pediatric liver transplant recipients. Pediatr Transplantation 2012: 16: 176–182. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Abstract:  NK cells are important in the immune response against tumors and virally infected cells. A balance between inhibitory and activating receptors controls the effector functions of NK cells. We examined the fate of circulating NK cells and the expression of the NK cell-activating receptors in pediatric liver transplant recipients. Blood specimens were collected from 38 pediatric liver transplant recipients before transplant, and at one wk, one, three, six, and nine months, and one yr post-transplant. PBMCs were isolated and analyzed for the levels of NK cell activation receptors NKp30, NKp46, and NKG2D in the CD56dimCD16+ and CD56brightCD16+/− subsets of NK cells. We demonstrated that there is a significant decrease in the percentage of circulating NK cells post-transplant (pretransplant 7.69 ± 1.54 vs. one wk post-transplant 1.73 ± 0.44) in pediatric liver transplant recipients. Interestingly, NKp30 expression is significantly increased, while NKp46 and NKG2D levels remain stable on the NK cells that persist at one wk post-transplant. These data indicate that the numbers and subsets of circulating NK cells are altered in children after liver transplantation.