Major histocompatibility complex-unrestricted cytolytic activity of human T cells. Analysis of precursor frequency and effector phenotype

S. S. Patel, Dwain L Thiele, P. E. Lipsky

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36 Scopus citations


The frequency and phenotype of human T cells that mediate major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-unrestricted cytolysis were analyzed. T cell clones were generated by culturing adherent cell-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells at a density of 0.3 cell/well with phytohemagglutinin, recombinant interleukin 2 (rIL-2), and irradiated autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells and/or Epstein-Barr virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines. These conditions were shown to expand a mean of 96% of cells cultured. All of the 198 clones generated by this method were T cells (CD2+, CD3+, CD4+ or CD2+, CD3+, CD8+) that possessed potent lytic activity against K562, an erythroleukemia line sensitive to lysis by human natural killer cells, and Cur, a renal carcinoma cell line resistant to human natural killer activity. Cytolysis was MHC-unrestricted, since the clones were able to lyse MHC class I or class II negative targets, as well as MHC class I and class II negative targets. In addition, the activity was not inhibited by monoclonal antibodies directed against class I or class II nonpolymorphic MHC determinants. Killing, however, was inhibited by soluble monoclonal antibodies against the CD3 complex. Although the clones produced tissue necrosis factor/lymphotoxin-like molecules, lysis of Cur or K562 was not mediated by a soluble factor secreted by the clones. Some of the clones retained their cytotoxic activity when grown in rIL-2 alone for 4 to 6 wk, whereas others exhibited markedly diminished cytotoxicity after maintenance in this manner. Clones that exhibited diminished or no cytotoxic activity after prolonged maintenance in rIL-2 could be induced to kill by stimulation with immobilized but not soluble monoclonal antibodies to CD3 in the absence of lectin. All of the clones examined expressed NKH1 and CD11b but none were CD16 positive. The degree of cytotoxicity of resting or activated clones could not be correlated with expression of these markers. These data indicate that the capacity for MHC-unrestricted tumoricidal activity and expression of NKH1 and CD11b, but not CD16, are properties common to all or nearly all human peripheral blood-derived T cell clones regardless of CD4 or CD8 phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3886-3895
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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