Interleukin-15 and Natural Killer and NKT Cells Play a Critical Role in Innate Protection against Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection
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Interleukin-15 (IL-15), natural killer (NK) cells, and NK T (NKT) cells, components of the innate immune system, are known to contribute to defense against pathogens, including viruses. Here we report that IL-15(-/-) (NK(-) and NKT(-/+)) mice and RAG-2(-/-)/gamma(c)(-/-) (NK(-) and NKT(-)) mice that lack all lymphoid cells were very susceptible to vaginal infection with a low dose of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). IL-15(-/-) and RAG-2(-/-)/gamma(c)(-/-) mice were 100-fold more susceptible and RAG-2(-/-), CD-1(-/-) (NKT(-)), and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)(-/-) mice were 10-fold more susceptible to vaginal HSV-2 infection than control C57BL/6 mice. NK and/or NKT cells were the early source of IFN-gamma in vaginal secretions following genital HSV-2 infection. This study demonstrates that IL-15 and NK-NKT cells are critical for innate protection against genital HSV-2.
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