NK cells are important in the onset of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) by their ability to secrete IFN-γ and other inflammatory cytokines. They also participate in regulating pathological cardiac remodeling after myocardial infarction. Mechanisms of regulation, however, are incompletely understood. Herein, the aim of this study is to explore the possible association between the expression pattern of different NK cell receptors (phenotype), as well as the cytotoxic function of NK cells from AMI patients with their myocardial function after three months follow-up.
Researchers analyzed the phenotype and function of both CD56dimCD16+ and CD56brightCD16– NK cells from twenty-one patients within the first 72 h after ST-elevation AMI and three-month follow-up, as well as fifteen healthy controls. Clinical characteristics and ventricular function determined by echocardiography were also evaluated. NK cells from AMI patients showed an activated phenotype, characterized by high TNF-α production and low percentages of the activating receptor NKG2D. Interestingly, AMI patients display higher levels of circulating IL-10+ NK cells.
Three-month follow-up showed that NK cells exhibit a diminished cytotoxic function. These data show that NK cells may have a role mediating myocardial remodeling by regulating the inflammatory response, mainly by the production of IL-10. We also propose that NKG2D may have a role in the onset of the inflammatory response immediately after AMI. The precise regulation of NK cells function may represent an important step in recovery of myocardial function.