The Role of NKT Cells in Immune Evasion of Liver Metastases Arising from Intraocular Tumors
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Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common intraocular tumor in adults and liver metastasis is the leading cause of death in UM patients. We have previously shown that NKT cell-deficient mice develop significantly fewer liver metastases from intraocular melanomas than do wild-type (WT) mice. Here, we examine the interplay between liver NKT cells and NK cells in resistance to liver metastases from intraocular melanomas. NKT cell-deficient CD1d-/- mice and WT C57BL/6 mice treated with anti-CD1d antibody developed significantly fewer liver metastases than WT mice following either intraocular or intrasplenic injection of B16LS9 melanoma cells. The increased number of metastases in WT mice was associated with reduced liver NK cytotoxicity and decreased production of IFN-γ. However, liver NK cell-mediated cytotoxic activity was identical in non-tumor-bearing NKT cell-deficient mice and WT mice, indicating that liver metastases were crucial for the suppression of liver NK cells. Depressed liver NK cytotoxicity in WT mice was associated with production of IL-10 by bone marrow-derived liver cells and increased IL-10 receptor expression on liver NK cells. IL-10-/- mice had significantly fewer liver metastases than WT mice, but were not significantly different from NKT cell-deficient mice. Thus, development of melanoma liver metastases is associated with upregulation of IL-10 in the liver and an elevated expression of IL-10 receptor on liver NK cells. This impairment of liver NK activity is NKT cell-dependent and only occurs in hosts with melanoma liver metastases.