Interferon (IFN) and IFN inducers are known to boost natural killer (NK) activity in vivo and in vitro. In vivo enhancement of NK activity results from activation of preexisting NK cells as well as from an increased number of large granular lymphocytes (LGL), with a portion of them undergoing cell division. Our study was addressed to analyze the sequence of metabolic events occurring within the LGL population of Fischer rats treated with poly(I:C), as an IFN inducer. The increase in cytotoxic activity and LGL number in the peripheral blood already reached maximal levels by 12 hr after poly(I:C) injection, remained on a plateau 24 to 48 hr later, then slightly decreased on Day 4, and returned to control levels by Day 6. A similar kinetics was observed for RNA synthesis. In contrast DNA synthesis first increased at 24 hr, peaked at 48 hr, then decreased on Day 4, and was not detectable on Day 6. Percoll fractionation resulted in 92-97% of LGL in fraction 1, and cells in this fraction accounted for the increase of cytotoxicity as well as for newly synthesized RNA and DNA. However, LGL recovered on Day 1 or 2 after poly(I:C) stimulation displayed quite heterogeneous morphology, and a number of mitotic configurations were seen on Day 2 within the LGL population. Our results indicate that (a) the boosting of NK activity by poly(I:C) is always associated with an increase in LGL numbers, (b) the enhanced lytic capacity is associated in vivo with new RNA synthesis by the NK cells, and (c) only in a later phase NK cell proliferation may account for the increase in LGL numbers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology