Distress and expression of natural killer receptors on lymphocytes

Susan K. Lutgendorf, Mikel B. Moore, Sarah Bradley, Brent J. Shelton, Charles T. Lutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Chronic distress has been associated with alterations in natural killer (NK) cell and T cell percentages and function. NK cells express inhibitory and stimulatory receptors that regulate cytotoxicity and cytokine secretion. T cells and T cells expressing CD56 (NKT cells) also express these NK-associated receptors, which are thought to serve the same function. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between distress and expression of NK-associated receptors on NK cells, T cells, and NKT cells. Using multicolor flow cytometry and validated questionnaires, we studied twenty-nine healthy adults with a bimodal age spread. Whereas distress was related to significantly lower percentages of CD3+ T cells, it was related to significantly higher percentages of NKT cells. Distress was associated with significantly higher percentages of T cells expressing NK-associated receptors including CD94 and KIR. In contrast, distress was associated with significantly lower percentages of NK cells bearing KIR (GL183) receptors. Our findings suggest a possible role for NK-associated receptors in distress-related alterations in lymphocyte maturation, trafficking, or activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by NIH R01 DE11139, the Carver Foundation, NIH R21 CA88293, and Grant #RR00059 from the General Clinical Research Centers Program, National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. We thank Linda Snetselaar for help with study design, Colleen Fullenkamp and Phyllis Stumbo for help with recruitment and data collection, and Bridget Zimmerman for statistical assistance.


  • Distress
  • KIR
  • NKT cells
  • Natural killer receptors
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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