Natural cytotoxicity in the neonate: High levels of lymphokine activated killer (LAK) activity

D. Montagna, R. Maccario, A. G. Ugazio, G. Mingrat, G. R. Burgio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 28 healthy full-term newborns the percentage of circulating cells expressing the Leu7 antigen, the marker of natural killer (NK) cells, was significantly lower than in healthy adults. However, newborns and adults did not differ with regard to the percentage of cells reacting with the Leulla, Leullc and TEC NK-1, monoclonal antibodies directed against the IgG Fc receptor of killer cells. Spontaneous NK activity of neonatal cells was profoundly reduced compared to the adult. In contrast, antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity and NK-like activity generated in mixed lymphocyte cultures were similar in the two groups and lymphokine-activated killer cell (LAK) activity was high in the neonate. Natural killing is thought to play an important role in antiviral immunity since the neonate has a deficient capacity to deal with viral infections. Consequently, the present data indicate either that spontaneous NK is the most informative in vitro measure of newborn natural cytotoxicity in vivo, or, alternatively, that natural killing is not as important in antiviral immunity as previously suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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