A reciprocal activating interaction between NK cells and dendritic cells (DC) has been suggested to play a role in the functional regulation of these cells in immunity, but it has been studied only using in vitro generated bone marrow- or monocyte-derived DC. We report that human peripheral blood plasmacytoid DC (pDC) and myeloid DC are necessary to induce NK cell function depending on the type of microbial stimulus. pDC and myeloid DC are required for strongly increased NK cytolytic activity and CD69 expression, in response to inactivated influenza virus or CpG-containing oligonucleotides and poly(I:C), respectively. Secreted type I IFN is required and sufficient for the augmentation of NK cell cytolytic activity in the coculture with pDC or myeloid DC, whereas CD69 expression is dependent on both type I IFN and TNF. In addition, in response to poly(I:C), myeloid DC induce NK cells to produce IFN-gamma through a mechanism dependent on both IL-12 secretion and cell contact between NK cells and myeloid DC, but independent of type I IFN. IL-2-activated NK cells have little to no cytolytic activity for immature myeloid DC and pDC, but are able to induce maturation of these cells. Moreover, IL-2-activated NK cells induce, in the presence of a suboptimal concentration of CpG-containing oligonucleotides, a strong IFN-alpha and TNF production. These data suggest that the reciprocal functional interaction between NK cells and either pDC or myeloid DC may play an important physiological role in the regulation of both innate resistance and adaptive immunity to infections.
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