Prolactin increases the susceptibility of primary leukemia cells to NK and LAK effectors

E. Oberholtzer, M. Contarini, F. Veglia, A. Cossarizza, C. Franceschi, M. Geuna, M. Provinciali, G. Di Stefano, J. Sissom, M. F. Brizzi, L. Pegoraro, L. Matera

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Our previous studies have shown that prolactin (PRL), a pituitary and lymphocyte hormone and a ligand of the cytokine/hemopoietin receptors (R) superfamily, acts synergistically with interleukin (IL)-2 on the development of lymphokine activated killer (LAK) cells and enhances the effects of GM-CSF and IL-3 on myeloid progenitors' proliferation and differentiation. More recently, we have demonstrated that GM-CSF and IL-3 increase the sensitivity of acute myeloid leukemic (AML) cells to LAK activity. Together, these findings have prompted us to study the role of PRL on the target arm of the LAK response. We show here that CD33+ blasts from AML patients express membrane PRL-R and that the PRL/PRL-R interaction is followed by increased susceptibility to natural killer (NK) (p <0.02) and LAK (p <0.001) cells. As predicted from the dimerization model of PRL-R and in agreement with previous reports, the response of AML blasts to PRL was bell-shaped with a trend peak at 25 ng/ml. Although enhanced lysis occurred at the target recognition level, it was not accompanied by changes in the MHC class I, cellular adhesion molecules, or myeloid differentiation antigens. Cell cycle recruitment and lysis increased concurrently in three cases studied, suggesting a modulatory action of PRL on the expression of putative cycle-related NK/LAK-target structures. Together, these data strengthen the role of PRL in the LAK response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-247
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Neuroimmunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • cytokines
  • lymphokine activated killer cells
  • natural killer cells
  • neuroimmunomodulation
  • prolactin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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