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Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1985 Nov;37(2):262-75.

Phenotypical and functional analysis of natural killer cells in sarcoidosis.


The frequency of cells reactive with natural killer (NK)-related monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) HNK-1, NKP-15, B73.1, VEP-13, Ab8.28 has been evaluated in the peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of 39 patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis (including 19 cases with active sarcoidosis and 20 cases with inactive disease). This phenotypic analysis was carried out together with the NK in vitro functional evaluation of cell populations from peripheral blood and BAL fluid. In addition, inhibition studies were performed in order to evaluate the ability of alveolar macrophages (M phi) to modulate NK activity. Data from peripheral blood showed an increased number of mononuclear cells bearing HNK-1, NKP-15, Ab8.28, VEP-13, and B73.1 determinants in patients with active sarcoidosis with respect to patients with inactive disease and controls. The majority of HNK-1-positive cells lacked both Leu2 and Leu3 antigens when investigated in a double marker system. A parallel increase in the in vitro cytotoxicity assay has been demonstrated. On the other hand, only a few mononuclear cells recovered from BAL fluid displayed a surface pattern of NK cells. This small population of HNK-1-positive cells expresses the HNK-1/Leu3 phenotype and does not exhibit NK activity. The alveolar M phi from sarcoid patients, as well as alveolar M phi from controls, have the property of inhibiting the NK activity of autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes. The lack of lung NK function in patients with active sarcoidosis may be related to the presence of immature forms of NK cells and/or to the release of soluble factors by alveolar macrophages.

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