Résumé : Although glucocorticoids (GCs) have been described as acting mainly as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs, they may also positively influence the immune system. In the present study, we demonstrate for the first time that hydrocortisone (HC), in synergy with interleukin-15 (IL-15), induces a dramatic increase in the expansion of peripheral blood-derived CD56+ cells, favoring the preferential outgrowth of classical natural killer (CD56+CD3- NK) over CD56+CD3+ natural killer T (NKT) cells. HC plus IL-15-driven CD56+ cells exhibited an increased potential for cytokine production with no impairment in their NK- and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) activities. Elevated levels of GC-induced leucine zipper protein (GILZ) messenger RNA (mRNA) were detected in both NK and NKT cells cultured with HC and IL-15, in comparison to IL-15 alone. Phosphorylation status of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) was not affected by the presence of HC in either of the populations. On the contrary, HC differentially affected the IL-2/IL-15R beta- and gamma-chain surface expression and the phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) in IL-15-activated NK and NKT cells. Our data ascribe a novel role to GCs on mature NK-cell expansion and function and open new perspectives for their use in cellular adoptive cancer immunotherapy.