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Blood. 2000 Sep 1;96(5):1961-8.

Natural killer cell dysfunction and apoptosis induced by chronic myelogenous leukemia cells: role of reactive oxygen species and regulation by histamine.

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Hematology Section, Department of Medicine, Institute of Medical Microbiology, Sahlgren's University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.


Natural killer (NK) cells are deficient in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but the mechanisms responsible for the dysfunction are not completely understood. This study reports that CML cells effectively inhibit the baseline and interleukin-2 (IL-2)-induced NK cell cytotoxicity against a CML cell-derived line (K562). A sizable fraction of NK cells subsequently acquired features characteristic of programmed cell death/apoptosis. The CML cell-mediated inhibition of NK cells required triggering of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase-mediated formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and was prevented by catalase, a scavenger of ROS, and by histamine, acting via H(2)-receptor-mediated inhibition of ROS production in CML cells. In contrast, nonmalignant neutrophilic granulocytes inhibited NK cells via ROS production without the requirement of exogenous NADPH oxidase-triggering stimuli. We propose that paracrine production of ROS may contribute to the dysfunction of NK cells in CML and that histamine may serve as an autocrine inhibitor of ROS formation in leukemic granulocytes. (Blood. 2000;96:1961-1968).

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