Impact of Steroids on Natural Killer Cells Against Cytotoxicity and Hepatitis C Virus Replication

M. Ohira, S. Nishida, P. Tryphonopoulos, P. Ruiz, H. Ohdan, A. G. Tzakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background Natural killer (NK) cells play important roles in killing tumor and virus-infected cells. Immunosuppression used after organ transplantation is thought to increase the risk of tumor recurrence and viral infections. However, the effect of immunosuppressive drugs on NK cells has not yet been clearly established. Therefore, we examined the effect of immunosuppression on NK cells. Methods NK cells were cultured for 7 days in the presence of interleukin-2 (100 U/mL) with or without the following immunosuppressive drugs: tacrolimus, cyclosporine A, corticosteroid (methylprednisolone [MP]), mycophenolate mofetil, and rapamycin. The effect of the drugs on NK cell activation was tested on the basis of the following: NK cell phenotype, NK cell proliferation, cytotoxicity against K562 cells, cytokine production by NK cells, and anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity with HCV genomic replicon cells. Results NK cells showed relatively robust functions in the presence of tacrolimus and cyclosporine A. Mycophenolate mofetil and rapamycin significantly prevented only NK cell proliferation (P < .05). In contrast, MP significantly inhibited the proliferation, cytotoxicity, and anti-HCV effect (10.9%, 18.5%, and 1.9%, respectively) of NK cells. Furthermore, MP specifically inhibited the expression of NK cell activation markers and the production of interferon-γ (P < .05). Conclusions Corticosteroids have distinct effects on NK cells, which may have important implications for NK cell function in cytotoxicity and HCV effect after transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1164
Number of pages5
JournalTransplantation proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation


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