Psychoneuroimmunology and natural killer cells: The chromium release whole blood assay

Mary Ann Fletcher, Zachary Barnes, Gordon Broderick, Nancy G. Klimas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells are an essential component of innate immunity. These lymphocytes are also sensitive barometers of the effects of endogenous and exogenous stressors on the immune system. This chapter will describe a chromium (51Cr) release bioassay designed to measure the target cell killing capacity of NK cells (NKCC). Key features of the cytotoxicity assay are that it is done with whole blood and that numbers of effector cells are determined for each sample by flow cytometry and lymphocyte count. Effector cells are defined as CD3-CD56+ lymphocytes. Target cells are the K562 eyrthroleukemia cell line. Killing capacity is defined as number of target cells killed per effector cell, at an effector cell/target cell ratio of 1:1 during a 4 h in vitro assay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPsychoneuroimmunology
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
EditorsQing Yan, Qing Yan
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2012

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Chromium release assay
  • Flow cytometry
  • Innate immunity
  • K562 target cells
  • Lymphocytes
  • Natural killer cell cytotoxicity
  • Natural killer cells
  • NK cells
  • NKCC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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