Area of Research

Natural killer (NK) cells are cells of the innate immunity. They form one of the first lines of defence against pathogens. Through the expression of germline-encoded receptors, they immediately recognize and eliminate virus-infected as well as cancer cells. NK cells release cytokines and communicate with other immune cells via these signalling molecules. During retroviral infection, e.g. infections with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) or Friend Retrovirus (FV), NK cells exhibit “killer” functions and keep the viral load at a low level. During the later infection, NK cells lose their cytotoxic potential and become dysfunctional. Although they belong to the innate immunity, it is now known that NK cells might develop a memory phenotype. After re-stimulation, this small memory population eliminates target cells in an antigen-specific manner, as it was shown previously for several infection models.

In clinics, NK cells are highly important due to their multiple functions and rapid elimination of pathogens. My research focuses on the biology and modulation of NK cells after retrovirus infection, e.g. important signalling molecules or interaction with other immune cells such as regulatory T cells or Dendritic Cells. Especially, I am interested in the metabolism of antiviral NK cells, their nutritional requirements and signalling pathways that are important for NK cells to kill virus-infected cells.

Jun.-Prof. Elisabeth Littwitz-Salomon

RKH, Room 3.25

Tel. 0201/723-3007

Fax 0201/723-5543



  • Mittermüller, Daniela; Otto, Lucas; Kilian, Annika Loredana; Schnormeier, Ann-Kathrin; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Hasenberg, Anja; Dittmer, Ulf; Gunzer, Matthias
    PD-1 knockout on cytotoxic primary murine CD8+ T cells improves their motility in retrovirus infected mice
    In: Frontiers in Immunology Jg. 15 (2024) 1338218
  • 2023

  • Schild, Yves; Bosserhoff, Jonah; Droege, Freya; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Fandrey, Joachim; Wrobeln, Anna
    Hypoxia-Inducible Factor–Prolyl Hydroxylase Inhibitor Improves Leukocyte Energy Metabolism in Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia
    In: Life Jg. 13 (2023) Nr. 8, 1708
  • Schimmer, Simone; Mittermüller, Daniela; Werner, Tanja; Görs, Paul E.; Meckelmann, Sven; Finlay, David K.; Dittmer, Ulf; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth
    Fatty acids are crucial to fuel NK cells upon acute retrovirus infection
    In: Frontiers in Immunology Jg. 14 (2023) 1296355
  • 2022

  • Picard, Lea Katharina; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Waldmann, Herbert; Watzl, Carsten
    Inhibition of Glucose Uptake Blocks Proliferation but Not Cytotoxic Activity of NK Cells
    In: Cells Jg. 11 (2022) Nr. 21, 3489
  • Schmitz, Yasmin; Schwerdtfeger, Mara; Westmeier, Jaana; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Alt, Mira; Brochhagen, Leonie; Krawczyk, Adalbert; Sutter, Kathrin
    Superior antiviral activity of IFNβ in genital HSV-1 infection
    In: Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology Jg. 12 (2022) 949036
  • 2021

  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Moreira, Diana; Frost, Joe N.; Choi, Chloe; Liou, Kevin T.; Ahern, David K.; O’Shaughnessy, Simon; Wagner, Bernd; Biron, Christine A.; Drakesmith, Hal; Dittmer, Ulf; Finlay, David K.
    Metabolic requirements of NK cells during the acute response against retroviral infection
    In: Nature Communications Jg. 12 (2021) Nr. 1, 5376
  • Zou, Shi; Du, Yanqin; Huang, Shunmei; Chen, Mingfa; Yang, Xiaoli; Li, Sumeng; Chen, Yingshan; Han, Meihong; Li, Jia; Yu, Qing; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Huang, Hongming; Trilling, Mirko; Liu, Shi; Pei, Rongjuan; Liu, Jia; Wang, Baoju; Zheng, Xin; Lu, Mengji; Dittmer, Ulf; Sun, Shuilin; Yang, Dongliang; Wu, Jun
    Simultaneous or Prior Activation of Intrahepatic Type I Interferon Signaling Leads to Hepatitis B Virus Persistence in a Mouse Model
    In: Journal of Virology Jg. 95 (2021) Nr. 24, e00034-21
  • 2019

  • Moore, Tyler C.; Messer, Ronald J.; Gonzaga, Lorena M.; Mather, Jennifer M.; Carmody, Aaron B.; Bayer, Wibke; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Dittmer, Ulf; Hasenkrug, Kim J.
    Effects of Friend Virus Infection and Regulatory T Cells on the Antigen Presentation Function of B Cells
    In: mBio Jg. 10 (2019) Nr. 1, S. e02578 - 18
  • Kedia-Mehta, Nidhi; Choi, Chloe; McCrudden, Aisling; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Fox, Proinnsias G.; Gardiner, Clair M.; Finlay, David K.
    Natural Killer Cells Integrate Signals Received from Tumour Interactions and IL2 to Induce Robust and Prolonged Anti-Tumour and Metabolic Responses
    In: Immunometabolism Jg. 1 (2019) S. e190014
  • Malyshkina, Anna; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Sutter, Kathrin; Ross, Jean Alexander; Paschen, Annette; Windmann, Sonja; Schimmer, Simone; Dittmer, Ulf
    Chronic retroviral infection of mice promotes tumor development, but CD137 agonist therapy restores effective tumor immune surveillance
    In: Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy Jg. 68 (2019) Nr. 3, S. 479 - 488
  • Hotter, Dominik; Bosso, Matteo; Jønsson, Kasper L.; Krapp, Christian; Stürzel, Christina M.; Das, Atze; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Berkhout, Ben; Russ, Alina; Wittmann, Sabine; Gramberg, Thomas; Zheng, Yue; Martins, Laura J.; Planelles, Vicente; Jakobsen, Martin R.; Hahn, Beatrice H.; Dittmer, Ulf; Sauter, Daniel; Kirchhoff, Frank
    IFI16 Targets the Transcription Factor Sp1 to Suppress HIV-1 Transcription and Latency Reactivation
    In: Cell Host & Microbe Jg. 25 (2019) Nr. 6, S. 858 - 872.e13
  • 2018

  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Nguyen, Thanh; Schimmer, Simone; Dittmer, Ulf
    Friend retrovirus infection induces the development of memory-like natural killer cells 11 Medical and Health Sciences 1107 Immunology
    In: Retrovirology Jg. 15 (2018) Nr. 1, 68
  • Malyshkina, Anna; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Dittmer, Ulf; Schimmer, Simone
    The Cytotoxic Activity of Natural Killer Cells Is Suppressed by IL-10⁺ Regulatory T Cells During Acute Retroviral Infection
    In: Frontiers in Immunology Jg. 9 (2018) S. 1947
  • 2017

  • Malyshkina, Anna; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Sutter, Kathrin; Zelinskyy, Gennadiy; Windmann, Sonja; Schimmer, Simone; Paschen, Annette; Streeck, Hendrik; Hasenkrug, Kim J; Dittmer, Ulf
    Fas Ligand-mediated cytotoxicity of CD4+ T cells during chronic retrovirus infection
    In: Scientific Reports Jg. 7 (2017) S. 7785
  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Schimmer, Simone; Dittmer, Ulf
    Natural killer T cells contribute to the control of acute retroviral infection
    In: Retrovirology Jg. 14 (2017) Nr. 1, 5
  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Schimmer, Simone; Dittmer, Ulf
    Dose of retroviral infection determines induction of antiviral NK cell responses
    In: Journal of Virology Jg. 91 (2017) Nr. 22, S. e01122 15 Seiten - 17
  • 2016

  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Dittmer, Ulf; Sutter, Kathrin
    Insufficient natural killer cell responses against retroviruses : How to improve NK cell killing of retrovirus-infected cells
    In: Retrovirology Jg. 13 (2016) Nr. 1, 77
  • Akhmetzyanova, Ilseyar; Dittmer, Ulf; Brandau, Sven; Streeck, Hendrik; Dietze, Kirsten; Malyshkina, Anna; Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Zelinskyy, Gennadiy
    CD137 agonist therapy can reprogram regulatory T cells into cytotoxic CD4+ T cells with antitumor activity
    In: The Journal of Immunology (JI) Jg. 196 (2016) Nr. 1, S. 484 - 492
  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth;
    Interaktion von natürlicher Killerzellen mit T-Zell-Subpopulationen während einer akuten Friend-Retrovirus-Infektion
    Duisburg ; Essen (2016) ii, 106 Blätter
  • 2015

  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Akhmetzyanova, Ilseyar; Vallet, Cecilia; Francois, Sandra; Dittmer, Ulf; Gibbert, Kathrin
    Activated regulatory T cells suppress effector NK cell responses by an IL-2-mediated mechanism during an acute retroviral infection
    In: Retrovirology Jg. 12 (2015) Nr. 1, 66
  • 2013

  • Littwitz-Salomon, Elisabeth; Francois, Sandra; Dittmer, Ulf; Gibbert, Kathrin
    Distinct roles of NK cells in viral immunity during different phases of acute Friend retrovirus infection
    In: Retrovirology Jg. 10 (2013) Nr. 1, 127