Natural killer activity from normal peripheral blood lymphocytes against a human T lymphotrophic retrovirus Type III (HTLV-III)-infected cell line

M. C. Sirianni, G. De Sanctis, B. Macchi, S. Soddu, F. Ensoli, F. Aiuti, L. Fontana

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An H9-HTLV-III-infected cell line was used as a target in a short-term (3-hr) Cr release assay to assess its sensitivity to lysis by peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from normal donors. The single cell cytotoxicity assay (SCCA) on poly-L-lysine-coated coverslips was used to investigate further the mechanism of binding and killing. Uninfected H9 and K562 cell lines were studied as controls. Our results argue in favour of a natural killer (NK) mechanism being operative on an H9-HTLV-III-infected cell line owing to the following findings: (1) the cell line is sensitive to lysis in a short-term assay; (2) its sensitivity is significantly higher than K562; and (3) the kinetics of lysis, as assessed by SCCA, is similar to that of K562, with a more efficient killing being detectable against H9-HTLV-III. Furthermore, a phenotypic analysis of effector cells suggests that CD4+ lymphocytes are also involved in the lysis of this target. Our data provide evidence for an immune mechanism that may be operative in HTLV-III infection. We then studied, by this method, five groups of patients: one (n = 20) affected by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), one (n = 20) by AIDS-related complex (ARC), one (n = 20) by lymphadenopathy syndrome (LAS), one group (n = 40) of HTLV-III seropositive, apparently healthy people, and one (n = 40) of healthy HTLV-III seronegatives. A lack of NK activity to both K562 and the H9-HTLV-III-infected cell line was present in the first two groups whereas it was normal in the others. We consider this assay as useful in the characterization of the immunodeficiency underlying AIDS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalDiagnostic and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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