In this study new evidence is obtained by the use of an anti human perforin monoclonal antibody (mAb), anti P1, concerning the number of perforin positive cells in human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). It is shown that about 23% of PBL is perforin postive and that this percent increases by the treatment in RPMI 1640 medium alone to 33% and with 1000 U r hIL-2 to 46%. Assessment of the cytotoxicity potential of NK cells from PBL, freshly isolated and treated, against tumor cell line K562 by the standard NK cell 4-hr 51-chromium release assay, indicates a significant enhancement in their cytotoxicity. By FACStar sorting and analysis of the CD56+ NK cell population new evidence is obtained which shows that about 25-30% of this population represents the CD56bright+ subset, while 70-75% represents the CD56dim+ subset. As the two subsets were shown to differ functionally they were stained with anti P1 for the evaluation of perforin content and it was found that both of them are positive for perforin from 97-99%, suggesting that the functional difference is not due to perforin content. In this sense, as NK cells are constitutively positive for perforin, the increase in the cytotoxicity of NK cells induced by IL-2 is most likely due to the synthesis and expression of various adhesion molecules on NK cells which increase their cytotoxic potential, as well as, that the detected increase in the number of perforin postive cells by this lymphokine does not belong to NK, but to the T lymphocyte population. The data obtained in this study indicate the possibility of perforin detection in human lymphocytes by an anti human perforin mAb and the change in the number of perforin positive cells after stimulation with interleukin-2.
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