Riley, Caroline H2; Hansen, Morten2; Brimnes, Marie K2; Hasselbalch, Hans C2; Bjerrum, Ole W3; Straten, Per Thor2; Svane, Inge Marie3; Jensen, Morten Krogh2
1 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
In recent years, major molecular remissions have been observed in patients with JAK2-positive chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) after therapy with IFN-α. IFN-α is known to have altering effects on immune cells involved in immune surveillance and might consequently enhance anti-tumor immune response against the JAK2-mutated clone. The objective of this study was to investigate circulating levels and phenotype of natural killer cells in 29 JAK2-positive MPN patients during IFN-α treatment. Furthermore, functional studies of NK cells upon target-cell recognition and cytokine stimulation were performed. The CD56(bright) and CD56(dim) NK cell subtypes display different properties in terms of cytokine production and cytotoxicity, respectively. Our results show a significant increase in the proportion of CD56(bright) NK cells and a decreasing CD56(dim) population during treatment with IFN-α compared to patients that are untreated, treated with hydroxyurea and healthy controls, P < 0.0001. Furthermore, an overall increase in cytokine-dependent (IL-12 and IL-15) IFN-γ expression by CD56(dim) NK cells during IFN-α treatment was observed. In contrast, our data indicate a compromised NK cell response to target-cell recognition during treatment with IFN-α in four patients. We also report low levels of circulating NK cells in untreated patients compared to healthy donors, patients treated with hydroxyurea and IFN-α, P = 0.02. Based on our findings, one might speculate whether treatment with IFN-α skews the human NK population toward a helper type that may assist in CD8(+) T cell priming in lymphoid tissues at the expense of their immediate cytotoxic functions in peripheral blood and tissues.
European Journal of Haematology, 2015, Vol 94, Issue 3, p. 227-34