Natural killer cells can enhance the proliferative responses of B lymphocytes

Paul Katz, Gail Whalen, Thomas R. Cupps, S. Ray Mitchell, Mishell Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In addition to lytic activity against malignant and virally transformed target cells, recent evidence has suggested that natural killer (NK) cells can modulate immune activities such as the suppression of B cell responses through noncytotoxic means. Using human B cells and highly purified autologous NK cells, we have demonstrated that NK cells can substantially augment the proliferative responses of B cells stimulated with the surface immunoglobulin crosslinking agents anti-IgM or Slaphylococcus aureus Cowan strain I (SAC). This "enhancer" activity of NK cells was quite potent and was observed at an NK:B cell ratio as low as 0.05. Peak blastogenic responses of B cells cocultured with NK cells in the presence of B cell activators were observed at 2-3 days, similar to the responses of B cells in the absence of NK cells. Using the inhibitor of DNA synthesis mitomycin C, we determined that B cells and not NK cells were proliferating in cocultures of these lymphocytes stimulated with SAC. Activated B cells neither prevented the lysis of the isotope-labeled NK-sensitive target cell line K562 nor formed conjugates with NK cells, suggesting that cell contact was not a prerequisite for the effect. These studies have further expanded the functional repertoire of NK cells to include enhancer as well as suppressor and lytic activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalCellular Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 15 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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