NK cell maturation and function in C57BL/6 mice are altered by caloric restriction

Jonathan F Clinthorne, Eleni Beli, David M Duriancik, Elizabeth M Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


NK cells are a heterogenous population of innate lymphocytes with diverse functional attributes critical for early protection from viral infections. We have previously reported a decrease in influenza-induced NK cell cytotoxicity in 6-mo-old C57BL/6 calorically restricted (CR) mice. In the current study, we extend our findings on the influence of CR on NK cell phenotype and function in the absence of infection. We demonstrate that reduced mature NK cell subsets result in increased frequencies of CD127(+) NK cells in CR mice, skewing the function of the total NK cell pool. NK cells from CR mice produced TNF-α and GM-CSF at a higher level, whereas IFN-γ production was impaired following IL-2 plus IL-12 or anti-NK1.1 stimulation. NK cells from CR mice were highly responsive to stimulation with YAC-1 cells such that CD27(-)CD11b(+) NK cells from CR mice produced granzyme B and degranulated at a higher frequency than CD27(-)CD11b(+) NK cells from ad libitum fed mice. CR has been shown to be a potent dietary intervention, yet the mechanisms by which the CR increases life span have yet to be fully understood. To our knowledge, these findings are the first in-depth analysis of the effects of caloric intake on NK cell phenotype and function and provide important implications regarding potential ways in which CR alters NK cell function prior to infection or cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-22
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2013


  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface/metabolism
  • CD11b Antigen/metabolism
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Cytokines/biosynthesis
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Energy Intake
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-7 Receptor alpha Subunit/metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural/immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation/immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue/immunology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Receptors, Cell Surface/metabolism
  • T-Box Domain Proteins/genetics


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