Possible role of natural killer cells in pemphigus vulgaris - Preliminary observations

J. N.H. Stern, D. B. Keskin, N. Barteneva, J. Zuniga, E. J. Yunis, A. R. Ahmed

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an autoimmune blistering disease that affects the skin and multiple mucous membranes, and is caused by antibodies to desmoglein (Dsg) 1 and 3. Natural killer (NK) cells have a role in autoimmunity, but their role in PV is not known. NK cells in the peripheral blood leucocytes (PBL) of 15 untreated Caucasian patients with active PV were studied and compared with healthy controls for the expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II and co-stimulatory molecules. CD56+ CD16 - CD3- NK or CD56+ CD16+ CD3 - NK cells from the PBL of PV patients co-express MHC class II and co-stimulatory molecule B7-H3 without exogenous stimulation. CD4+ T cells from the PBL and perilesional skin of PV patients were co-cultured with CD56+ CD3- NK cells from the PBL of the same patients; in the presence of Dsg3 peptides underwent statistically significant proliferation, indicating that NK cells functioned as antigen-presenting cells. Supernatants from these co-cultures and serum of the same patients with active PV had statistically significantly elevated levels of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8 and interferon-γ, compared with controls indicating that the NK cells stimulated CD4+ T cells to produce proinflammatory cytokines. In these experiments, we present preliminary evidence that NK cells may play a role in the pathobiology of PV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-481
Number of pages10
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • B cell
  • MHC class II
  • Natural killer cells
  • T lymphocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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