Murine lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells; phenotypic characterization of the precursor and effector cells

J. C. Yang, J. J. Mule, S. A. Rosenberg

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101 Scopus citations


Murine and human lymphocytes incubated in recombinant interleukin 2 (RIL 2) generate a population of cytotoxic cells (lymphokine-activated killer cells [LAK]), which are able to lyse a wide array of fresh tumor cells but do not lyse fresh normal cells. Intravenous administration of these cells with the concomitant administration of RIL 2 can eliminate established pulmonary and hepatic metastases in mice. To characterize the cell that has in vitro LAK activity, we subdivided murine lymphocytes by lysing select subpopulations with the use of complement and antibodies against lymphocyte surface markers or by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Thy-1.2-negative splenocytes were found to generate near normal amounts of LAK activity after RIL 2 incubation. Small and inconsistent LAK cell activity was generated from Thy-1.2-positive splenocytes. Ia-positive and surface immunoglobulin-positive splenocytes had little or no LAK precursor capability and did not appear to be necessary for LAK activation. Treatment of splenocytes with antiasialo GM1 (anti-ASGM1) heterosera and complement markedly decreased their ability to generate LAK activity. At the effector stage, cytotoxic cells were of the Thy-1.2-positive, Ia-negative phenotype. Ia-depleted cells were separared into subpopulations bearing or not bearing the γFc receptor (γFcR). The majority of cytotoxicity resided in γFcR-positive cells. Thus the precursors of murine LAK cells are 'null' lymphocytes bearing neither T nor B cell surface markers but develop the Thy-1.2 cell surface marker in vitro, in association with the development of lytic activity for fresh tumor cells after stimulation by RIL 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-722
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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