In vitro modulation of natural cell-mediated cytotoxicity (NCMC), following sequential treatment of human mononuclear cells (MNC) with cytokines was investigated. Recombinant Interleukin-2 (IL2) used in combination with interferons (IFNs) induced variable effects on the cytolytic function of different MNC preparations obtained from 16 healthy donors. When MNC were treated with IFNs on day 4, after IL2 induction of LAK cells, increase or no change in cytotoxic activity was found. On the other hand, either no change or decrease in LAK activity occured when MNC were treated with IFNs on day 0 before exposure to IL2. In this case the effect of IFNs on NCMC did not correlate with their activity on cell proliferation or on TAC antigen expression. In conclusion the present study points out that the NCMC of MNC of healthy donors, subjected to IL2 treatment in vitro, can be significantly increased by IFNs. However this effect is largely schedule-dependent (i.e. detectable with IL2-IFNs but not with IFNs-IL2 sequence), and can be obtained in a relatively limited number of cases. Moreover it is suggested that these in vitro studies could provide preclinical bases for a rational approach to in vivo treatment with cytokine cascade in a clinical setting.
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