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Opposing influence of age on the growth and colony-forming ability of mouse melanoma B16 and mammary adenocarcinoma: Correlation with natural killer activity


C57Bl and CBA mice of different ages (6, 12, 26 or 35 weeks) received intramuscular inocula of melanoma B16 or mammary adenocarcinoma (MCa), respectively. Median survival time was shorter, the younger the recipients. Tumor enlargement was correspondingly retarded in older mice. This was associated with decrease of natural killer (NK) activity in the spleens. However, the cytotoxicity against fresh syngeneic tumor cells, increased with age in CBA mice. In contrast to the growth of intramuscular tumors, the ability of intravenously injected B16 or MCa cells to form nodules in the lungs was significantly superior in old animals (35 weeks or more), with low levels of NK activity, than in young ones (6 weeks) with high levels of NK activity. Stimulation of NK activity by poly(I) · poly(C) reduced the number of MCa colonies by 50% in the lungs of old mice, but had no effect on colony-forming ability in young animals. The observed association of tumor growth with age and NK activity levels may reflect (a) an interplay of tumor-inhibiting and tumor-promoting effects of NK cells, changing with age, and (b) the accessibility of tumor cells, inoculated intramuscularly or captured in the lungs, to these influences.

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Correspondence to Jelka Gabrilovac.

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Gabrilovac, J., Radačić, M., Osmak, M. et al. Opposing influence of age on the growth and colony-forming ability of mouse melanoma B16 and mammary adenocarcinoma: Correlation with natural killer activity. Cancer Immunol Immunother 32, 45–50 (1990).

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  • Tumor Cell
  • Melanoma
  • Natural Killer
  • Natural Killer Cell
  • Median Survival