Hypoxia can regulate the degree of inflammation and the anti/pro-

Hypoxia can regulate the degree of inflammation and the anti/pro-tumoral functions of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, thus tilting check details the balance between cancer progression and regression [43-45]. Furthermore, both pro- and antiapoptotic consequences of hypoxia have been documented depending on the cellular context [42],

resulting in cell death [46], or survival [47] of distinct immune cell populations. Recent evidences indicate that low pO2 can affect NK-cell differentiation from hematopoietic stem cells in vitro [48]. Limited information, however, is currently available on the impact of hypoxia on mature, ready to kill, NK cells. In this study, we investigated this issue and we show that NK cells can adapt to the hypoxic environment by upregulating HIF-1α. This response is associated with inhibition of the NK-cell learn more cytolytic activity against tumor or virally infected target cells, without significantly affecting ADCC. We analyzed whether hypoxia affected NK-cell viability. To this end, NK

cells were isolated from PB of healthy donor, cultured with IL-2 under hypoxic (1% O2) or normoxic (20% O2) conditions. Cells were then harvested after 96 h and analyzed for Annexin V (AV)/ propidium iodide (PI) staining to detect apoptotic/necrotic cells. As shown in Figure 1A, there was no loss of cell viability under hypoxia, as indicated by a similar high percentage of viable nonapoptotic NK cells in both normoxic and hypoxic cultures. The response of NK cells to hypoxia was assessed by evaluating the expression of HIF-1α. HIF-1α protein levels were measured by Western blot analysis of cell lysates from NK cells either freshly isolated or cultured under

normoxic or hypoxic conditions (either in the absence or in the presence of IL-2). As shown in Figure 1B, HIF-1α expression was not detectable in fresh cells or in cells cultured under normoxia but was rapidly induced at 3 h and maintained up to at least 48 h in NK cells cultured under hypoxic conditions. Interestingly, HIF-1α was inducible by hypoxia in both resting and IL-2-treated NK cells. We next assessed whether hypoxia could Dynein modulate NK-cell function. First, we evaluated the effects of hypoxia on the expression of the main receptors capable of triggering cytolytic activity in short-term cultures. Surface expression of NCRs (NKp46, NKp30, and NKp44), NKG2D, and CD16 was assessed by flow cytometry on freshly isolated PB NK cells and after culture under normoxic or hypoxic conditions. As shown in Supporting Information Fig. 1, hypoxia downregulated NKp46, NKp30, NKG2D, and, minimally, CD16 expression on resting NK cells (i.e. on NK cells cultured without IL-2). More importantly, hypoxia was effective also on activated NK cells.

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