Human NK cells are classified into two populations according to the intensity of CD56 surface expression, as well as possession of CD16, FcRIII. CD56dimCD16brightmake up 90% circulating NK cells, whereas CD56brightCD16-/dimcomprises the remaining 10%. Here we report that peripheral NK cells upon CD16 cross-linking up-regulates the expression of activating markers and receptors such as CD25, CD69, NKp44, NKp30, CD40L and the intensity of CD56 expression. Additionally, co-culturing immature DCs with CD16 activated NK cells was found to significantly increase the expression of maturation markers on DCs. These results suggest that CD16 cross-linking on resting peripheral blood NK cells triggers the activation of these cells and induces the appearance of CD56brightNK cells. The latter were found capable of producing pro-inflammatory cytokines, IFN-γ and TNF-α and notably IL-12. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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