Regulatory CD56bright natural killer cells mediate immunomodulatory effects of IL-2Rα-targeted therapy (daclizumab) in multiple sclerosis

Bibiana Bielekova, Marta Catalfamo, Susan Reichert-Scrivner, Amy Packer, Magdalena Cerna, Thomas A. Waldmann, Henry McFarland, Pierre A. Henkart, Roland Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

454 Scopus citations


Administration of daclizumab, a humanized mAb directed against the IL-2Rα chain, strongly reduces brain inflammation in multiple sclerosis patients. Here we show that daclizumab treatment leads to only a mild functional blockade of CD4+ T cells, the major candidate in multiple sclerosis pathogenesis. Instead, daclizumab therapy was associated with a gradual decline in circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and significant expansion of CD56bright natural killer (NK) cells in vivo, and this effect correlated highly with the treatment response. In vitro studies showed that NK cells inhibited T cell survival in activated peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures by a contact-dependent mechanism. Positive correlations between expansion of CD56bright NK cells and contraction of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell numbers in individual patients in vivo provides supporting evidence for NK cell-mediated negative immunoregulation of activated T cells during daclizumab therapy. Our data support the existence of an immunoregulatory pathway wherein activated CD56 bright NK cells inhibit T cell survival. This immunoregulation has potential importance for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection and toward modification of tumor immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5941-5946
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 11 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CD25
  • IL-2
  • Immunoregulatory natural killer cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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