Natural Killer Cells in Autoimmune Diseases
Natural killer cell activity was first recognized around 1970 (McCoy et al., 1973; Takasugi et al., 1973). This activity can be demonstrated without the apparent previous sensitization of the effector cells. It has therefore been termed either spontaneous or natural cell-mediated cytotoxicity (Takasugi et al., 1977), spontaneous lymphocyte-mediated or mononuclear cell cytotoxicity (Pross and Baines, 1977), and now usually natural killer (NK) cell activity. The effector cells responsible for this activity are called natural killer cells (NK cells). They are considered to be distinct from other cells capable of mediating spontaneous cytotoxicity such as cytotoxic T lymphocytes and monocytes (Ritz et al., 1988). In vitro lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells are interleukin-2 (IL-2)-stimulated lymphocytes with the ability to lyse NK resistant target cells in vivo (Grimm et al., 1982). However, LAK cells have so far not been shown to represent a distinct effector cell population. They mostly appear to represent IL-2-stimulated NK cells with enhanced cytolytic activity (Ritz et al., 1988; Lotzová and Ades, 1989).
KeywordsArthritis Lymphoma Leukemia Hydrocortisone Interferon
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