The role of the thymus in the maintenance of natural killer cells in vivo.


:This report describes a model for investigating the role of the thymus in regulating natural killer (NK) cell activity in vivo. Evidence is presented that the thymus can regulate NK cells, and that at least some NK cells can develop without thymic help. Marrow from thymectomized rats depleted of circulating T cells by thoracic duct cannulation was transplanted into rats without a thymus (1 degree ATX.BM). These 1 degree ATX.BM rats had NK cell levels above controls 3 months after reconstitution but markedly depressed NK cell levels by 9 months. When 1 degree ATX.BM marrow was used to reconstitute rats with or without a thymus, those without a thymus (2 degrees ATX.BM) exhibited low NK cell levels after 3 months, and a similar result was obtained when 2 degrees ATX.BM marrow was used to reconstitute 3 degrees ATX.BM rats. The low NK cell levels in 2 degrees and 3 degrees ATX.BM rats were due to a deficiency in spontaneously cytotoxic NK cells, as they had normal numbers of interferon-responsive pre-NK cells. Spleen cells from 2 degrees and 3 degrees ATX.BM rats produced less interferon than control spleen cells when cultured with P815 tumor cells in vitro. However, 2 degrees and 3 degrees ATX.BM rats had higher numbers of large granular lymphocytes than controls despite their low NK cell levels. In marked contrast to 2 degrees and 3 degrees ATX.BM rats, spleen cells from 4 degrees ATX.BM rats had higher levels of cytotoxicity and a higher frequency of both spontaneously cytotoxic and pre-NK cells than controls. The 4 degrees ATX.BM rats also had the highest frequency of large granular lymphocytes in the spleen.


Cell Immunol


Cellular immunology


Flexman JP,Holt PG,Mayrhofer G,Latham BI,Shellam GR




Has Abstract


1985-02-01 00:00:00














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