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

21 Scopus citations


The dysregulated sepsis-induced cytokine storm evoked during systemic infection consists of biphasic and interconnected pro- and 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-γ) 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.

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

Bibliographical note

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


  • Animals
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome/blood
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma/metabolism
  • Interleukin-10/genetics
  • Interleukin-15/metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural/immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Sepsis/blood
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Signal Transduction/immunology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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