Identification of a detrimental role for NK cells in pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis in immunocompromised hosts

Alison R Kerr, Lea Ann S Kirkham, Aras Kadioglu, Peter W Andrew, Paul Garside, Hal Thompson, Tim J Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Gram-positive sepsis is a major disease problem. However, the contribution of various immune cell types to pathogenesis remains unclear. By infecting scid and wild type BALB/c mice with Streptococcus pneumoniae we have found a situation in which natural killer (NK) cells can play a detrimental role in the response to infection. scid mice were found to be significantly more susceptible to local and systemic pneumococcal infection than controls; they had significantly higher bacterial loads, elevated inflammatory responses and more widespread lung pathology. Interestingly, depletion of NK cells in scid mice resulted in significantly lower bacteraemia and inflammatory cytokine production. Infection with pneumococci deficient in pneumolysin revealed the toxin was involved in cytokine production. Overall results indicate that elevated NK cell activity during pneumococcal pneumonia amplifies pulmonary and systemic inflammation, increases bacteraemia and results in poor outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-52
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Animals
  • Bacteremia
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Female
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Killer Cells, Natural
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, SCID
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal
  • Sepsis
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Streptolysins
  • Time Factors


Dive into the research topics of 'Identification of a detrimental role for NK cells in pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis in immunocompromised hosts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this