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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 759765, 12 pages
Research Article

Development of Murine Hepatic NK Cells during Ontogeny: Comparison with Spleen NK Cells

Institute of Immunology, Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230027, China

Received 18 May 2011; Revised 7 August 2011; Accepted 22 August 2011

Academic Editor: Ana Lepique

Copyright © 2012 Xian Wu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The phenotype of developing liver NK cells (CD3NK1.1+) was investigated during mouse ontogeny comparing with spleen NK cells. The highest percentage of hepatic CD27CD11b NK cells occurred at the fetal stage. After birth, the percentage of CD27CD11bNK cells in both the liver and spleen gradually decreased to their lowest level at 6 weeks. More CD27+CD11bNK cells were detected in the liver than that in spleen from week 1 to 6. Expression of NKG2A on liver NK cells was decreased but still much higher than that of spleen NK cells after 1 week. The NKG2D expression on liver NK cells increased to its highest level and was significantly higher than on spleen NK cells till 4 weeks. During mouse ontogeny, weaker expression of NKp46 and CD2 and stronger expression of CD69, CD11c, 2B4, and CD73 were observed on liver NK cells. Furthermore, neonatal liver NK cells express higher IFN-γ and perforin than adult .These results suggest that the maturation process of NK cells is unique in the livers, and liver microenvironments might play critical roles to keep NK cells in an immature status.