Up-regulation of NKG2A inhibitory receptor on circulating NK cells contributes to transfusion-induced immunodepression in patients with β-thalassemia major

  • Yong Zou (邹 勇)
  • Zhi-xing Song (宋志兴)
  • Ying Lu (陆 英)
  • Xiao-li Liang (梁晓莉)
  • Qing Yuan (袁 青)
  • Si-hong Liao (廖思红)
  • Jun-jie Bao (鲍俊杰)Email author


Accumulating evidence has shown that allogeneic blood transfusions can induce significant immunosuppression in recipients, and thereby increase the risk of postoperative infection and/or tumor relapse. Although it is well known that natural killer (NK) cells are responsible for the immunodepression effects of transfusion, the underlying mechanisms remain obscure. In this study, we investigated the role of NK cells in transfusion-induced immunodepression in β-thalassemia major. The proportion of circulating NK cells and the expression of NK receptors (NKG2A, CD158a, NKP30, NKP46 and NKG2D) as well as CD107a were detected by multicolor flow cytometry. IFN-γ production by circulating NK cells was detected by intracellular cytokine staining. Our results showed that the proportion and cytotoxicity (CD107a expression) of circulating NK cells in transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia major patients were remarkably lower than those of β-thalassemia minor patients or healthy volunteers. Expression of NKG2A inhibitory receptor on circulating NK cells in patients with β-thalassemia major was remarkably up-regulated, but there were no significant differences in the expression levels of NKP30, NKP46, NKG2D, CD158a and IFN-γ. These results indicate NKG2A inhibitory receptor may play a key role in transfusion-induced immunodepression of NK cells in patients with β-thalassemia major.


natural killer cells NKG2A thalassemia transfusion immunodepression 


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Copyright information

© Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yong Zou (邹 勇)
    • 1
  • Zhi-xing Song (宋志兴)
    • 2
  • Ying Lu (陆 英)
    • 1
  • Xiao-li Liang (梁晓莉)
    • 3
  • Qing Yuan (袁 青)
    • 1
  • Si-hong Liao (廖思红)
    • 1
  • Jun-jie Bao (鲍俊杰)
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Blood Transfusionthe Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Laboratorythe Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Reproductive Medicine Unit, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecologythe First People’s Hospital of FoshanFoshanChina
  4. 4.Preterm Birth Prevention and Treatment Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical CenterGuangZhou Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina

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