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Dev Comp Immunol. 1999 Sep;23(6):521-32.

Characterization of equine natural killer and IL-2 stimulated lymphokine activated killer cell populations.

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  • 1James A. Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells are an important component of the innate immune system. Though intensively studied in humans and rodents. NK cells remain less well characterized in other species. Studies are often limited by the lack of specific cell markers; however, the mAb NK-5C6 has been suggested to recognize an evolutionarily conserved molecule on NK cells and reacts with cells from several species. This mAb was used in the current investigation to identify and characterize equine NK cells, and was found to label approximately 10% of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). Two-color flow cytometry analysis identified the NK-5C6+ cell population as being CD3-CD4- and CD8-, but positive for MHC class I and LFA-1 expression. Depletion of CD3+ T cells increased the percent NK-5C6+ cells in PBL; this enriched population demonstrated a specific cytotoxic response against a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) deficient NK target cell line (K-562), but not MHC+ target cells (EqT8888). These results provide evidence for an equine NK cell population, which exhibits endogenous lytic activity and a phenotype similar to that of human and mouse NK cells. Stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with IL-2 promoted the development of LAK cells. These cells were predominantly CD3+ T cells, demonstrated intracellular perforin expression, and effectively lysed both K-562 and EqT8888 target cells. Hence, equine NK cells can be identified by the NK-5C6 mAb and distinguished from IL-2 stimulated LAK cells by their cytotoxic response to specific target cell lines.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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