By Pankaj, US correspondent, [RxPG] Influenza A virus (fluA) is a major human pathogen. The role of certain white bloods cells, known as natural killer (NK) cells, in the innate immune response to fluA is not well understood. In the December 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Xiao-Song He and colleagues from the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto demonstrate that upon exposure of adult cells to fluA, NK cells produce IFN-gamma, which stimulates the immune system to destroy foreign material.
The authors further demonstrate that T cells previously exposed to fluA (known as virus-specific memory T cells), express IL-2, which is required in order to initiate subsequent IFN-gamma secretion by NK cells. Taken together, these data and results of previous work support the notion that a number of reciprocal interactions exist between components of the innate and adaptive immune response, which collectively facilitate a successful immune response to clear an infection.