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Clin Infect Dis. 1992 Nov;15(5):764-70.

Impaired activity of natural killer cells in patients with acute brucellosis.

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Servicio de Medicina Interna, Hospital General Universitario de Guadalajara.


Researchers have claimed that natural killer (NK) cells are involved in the mechanisms of defense of the host against infections. We have investigated the activity of NK cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) from 12 patients for whom acute brucellar infection has been diagnosed and from 14 healthy controls. The sera of eight of the patients were also analyzed 3 months after initiation of a 45-day course of antibiotic treatment, at which time they had no evidence of relapse. PBMNC from patients with acute brucellar infection showed a significantly depressed NK cell activity (P < .01) when compared with those from healthy controls; this depressed activity was not related to a deficient number of NK cells since the numbers of CD56+ and CD16+ cells present in PBMNC were similar in patients and controls. Incubation of PBMNC from patients with acute brucellar infection with recombinant interleukin-2, but not with interferon-gamma, can correct this impaired cytotoxic activity. In treated patients, there was a significant enhancement (P < .05) and normalization of the previously defective NK cell activity. It is concluded that acute brucellar infection is associated with a deficient cytotoxic activity of NK cells that can be overcome by in vitro incubation with interleukin-2 and that reverts to normal after antibiotic treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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