Natural killer (NK) activity against K-562 myeloid cell line was evaluated in 21 spleens and 14 lymph nodes from patients with Hodgkin's disease (HD). NK activity of eight HD-involved (HD+) spleens [556 lytic units (LU)] was found 5-fold higher than that of 13 HD-uninvolved (HD-) spleens (112 LU) (p < 0.01). Moreover, NK activity of HD+ spleens was significantly different (p < 0.05) from that of three spleens involved by non-HD lymphoma (100 LU). NK activity of four spleens from nonneoplastic patients (250 LU) was intermediate between those of HD+ and HD- spleens. Lymph node cells were about 10-fold less cytotoxic. NK activity of seven HD+ lymph nodes (43 LU) was 3-fold higher than that of three lymph nodes involved by non-HD lymphoma (8 LU). However, these differences were not statistically significant. Our data are compatible with increased NK activity in HD+ tissues as well as with depressed NK activity in HD- tissues. The observation that NK activity of peripheral blood leukocytes from nine HD patients (116 LU) (p < 0.05 only at 100:1 effector:target cell ratio) may support the latter interpretation. Partial characterization of effector cells in HD+ and in HD- spleens indicated that, in both instances, NK cells were nonadherent and almost equally distributed between the erythrocyte-negative and -positive cell fractions. Finally, NK activity of both HD+ and HD- spleen cells could be further potentiated in vitro by interferon.


Supported by Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche Contract 800147496, Progetto Finalizzato “Controllo della crescita neoplastica”, sttoprogetto “Controllo Immunitario.”

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