NK Cell-Derived IL-10 Supports Host Survival during Sepsis

Isaac J. Jensen, Patrick W. McGonagill, Noah S. Butler, John T. Harty, Thomas S. Griffith, Vladimir P. Badovinac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dysregulated sepsis-induced cytokine storm evoked during systemic infection consists of biphasic and interconnected pro- A nd anti-inflammatory responses. The contrasting inflammatory cytokine responses determine the severity of the septic event, lymphopenia, host survival, and the ensuing long-lasting immunoparalysis state. NK cells, because of their capacity to elaborate pro-(i.e., IFN-g) and anti-inflammatory (i.e., IL-10) responses, exist at the inflection of sepsis-induced inflammatory responses. Thus, NK cell activity could be beneficial or detrimental during sepsis. In this study, we demonstrate that murine NK cells promote host survival during sepsis by limiting the scope and duration of the cytokine storm. Specifically, NK cell-derived IL-10, produced in response to IL-15, is relevant to clinical manifestations in septic patients and critical for survival during sepsis. This role of NK cells demonstrates that regulatory mechanisms of classical inflammatory cells are beneficial and critical for controlling systemic inflammation, a notion relevant for therapeutic interventions during dysregulated infection-induced inflammatory responses. The Journal of Immunology, 2021, 206: 1171-1180.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1180
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01AI114543 (to V.P.B. and J.T.H.), R21AI147064 (to V.P.B.), R35GM134880 (to V.P.B.), R21AI151183 (to V.P.B. and J.T.H.), R01GM115462 (to T.S.G.), R01AI125446 (to N.S.B.), R01AI127481 (to N.S.B.), R01AI42767 (to J.T.H.), R01AI85515 (to J.T.H.), R01AI100527 (to J.T.H.), T32AI007511 (to I.J.J.), and T32AI007485 (to I.J.J.) and Veterans Health Administration Merit Review Award I01BX001324 (to T.S.G.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association of Immunologists. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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