Killer immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIR) haplogroups A and B track with Natural Killer Cells and Cytokine Profile in Aged Subjects: Observations from Octo/Nonagenarians in the Belfast Elderly Longitudinal Free-living Aging STudy (BELFAST)

Irene Maeve Rea, Lynn D Maxwell, Susan E McNerlan, H Denis Alexander, Martin D Curran, Derek Middleton, Owen A Ross

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Abstract

Background: Natural Killer Cells (NK) play an important role in detection and elimination of virus-infected, damaged or cancer cells. NK cell function is guided by expression of Killer Immunoglobulin-like Receptors (KIRs) and contributed to by the cytokine milieu. KIR molecules are grouped on NK cells into stimulatory and inhibitory KIR haplotypes A and B, through which NKs sense and tolerate HLA self-antigens or up-regulate the NK-cytotoxic response to cells with altered HLA self-antigens, damaged by viruses or tumours. We have previously described increased numbers of NK and NK-related subsets in association with sIL-2R cytokine serum levels in BELFAST octo/nonagenarians. We hypothesised that changes in KIR A and B haplotype gene frequencies could explain the increased cytokine profiles and NK compartments previously described in Belfast Elderly Longitudinal Free-living Aging STudy (BELFAST) octo/nonagenarians, who show evidence of ageing well.

Results: In the BELFAST study, 24% of octo/nonagenarians carried the KIR A haplotype and 76% KIR B haplotype with no differences for KIR A haplogroup frequency between male or female subjects (23% v 24%; p=0.88) or for KIR B haplogroup (77% v 76%; p=0.99). Octo/nonagenarian KIR A haplotype carriers showed increased NK numbers and percentage compared to Group B KIR subjects (p=0.003; p=0.016 respectively). There were no KIR A/ B haplogroup-associated changes for related CD57+CD8 (high or low) subsets. Using logistic regression, KIR B carriers were predicted to have higher IL-12 cytokine levels compared to KIR A carriers by about 3% (OR 1.03, confidence limits CI 0.99–1.09; p=0.027) and 14% higher levels for TGF-ß (active), a cytokine with an anti-inflammatory role, (OR 1.14, confidence limits CI 0.99–1.09; p=0.002).

Conclusion: In this observational study, BELFAST octo/nonagenarians carrying KIR A haplotype showed higher NK cell numbers and percentage compared to KIR B carriers. Conversely, KIR B haplotype carriers, with genes encoding for activating KIRs, showed a tendency for higher serum pro-inflammatory cytokines compared to KIR A carriers. While the findings in this study should be considered exploratory they may serve to stimulate debate about the immune signatures of those who appear to age slowly and who represent a model for good quality survivor-hood.© 2013 Rea et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Number of pages12
JournalImmunity & ageing
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
EventImmunology Summit - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Feb 201426 Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • Ageing
  • BELFAST octo/nonagenarians
  • KIR A and B haplotypes
  • Cytokines
  • IL-6
  • IL-12
  • IL-12p40
  • IL-10
  • Active TGF-β
  • sIL-2R
  • TNF-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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