C57BL/6 mice depleted of NK (natural killer) cells with anti-asialo-GM1 antibody were more susceptible to lethal HSV-1 ocular challenge (12% survival) than control C57BL/6 mice (100% survival), CD4+ depleted mice (100% survival), CD8+ depleted mice (80% survival), or macrophage depleted mice (85% survival). NK depletion also resulted in significantly higher levels of HSV-1 induced corneal scarring than was seen with any of the other groups. C57BL/6 mice depleted of NK cells with PK136 (anti-NK1.1 antibody which is more specific for NK cells than is anti-asialo-GM1 antibody) were also more susceptible to HSV-1 ocular challenge than T cell or macrophage depleted mice. Vaccination completely protected NK depleted mice against death and corneal scarring. In contrast to C57BL/6 mice, in BALB/c mice, NK depletion had no effect on survival or corneal scarring following ocular HSV-1 challenge. Experiments with IFN-γ knockout mice (IFN-γ(o/o) mice) suggested that IFN-γ played a minor role in protection of naive mice against death following HSV-1 challenge. However, IFN-γ did not appear to be an important factor in protection against HSV-1 induced eye disease. Thus, protection against HSV-1 induced corneal scarring in naive mice appeared to be due to a non-INF-γ NK function. Our results therefore suggest that NK cells were very important in protecting naive C57BL/6 mice but not vaccinated C57BL/6 mice against corneal scarring and death following ocular HSV-1 challenge. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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