Estrogen and antiestrogen modulation of the levels of mouse natural killer activity and large granular lymphocytes

Isabella Screpanti, Angela Santoni, Alberto Gulino, Ronald B. Herberman, Luigi Frati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the time course of the 17β-estradiol effect on mouse natural killer (NK) activity and the number of splenic large granular lymphocytes (LGL), a cell population recently associated with natural cytotoxicity and enriched in low density fractions of Percoll discontinuous density gradients. After 7 days of in vivo treatment with estrogen, an increased cytotoxicity against YAC-1 lymphoma cells was observed using only as effectors cells recovered from higher density fractions, usually devoid of NK activity. In contrast, after a 30-day treatment, augmented NK activity and an increase in LGL number were observed in the lower density Percoll fractions. Similar results were observed after a 30-day treatment with the antiestrogen tamoxifen. The cytotoxicity of both low density and high density splenocyte fractions was totally abrogated by treatment with antiserum to asialo GM1 plus complement, whereas anti-Thy 1.2 antibody treatment only partially decreased the reactivity. Further estrogen administration up to 60 days decreased both NK activity and LGL number. It is concluded that estradiol can induce opposite effects on NK activity depending on the time of treatment, with stimulation of NK activity during the first 30 days after treatment followed by depressed NK activity 1 month later.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalCellular Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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