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Clin Exp Immunol. 1990 Aug;81(2):218-24.

Natural killer cell activity during measles.

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Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Natural killer cells are postulated to play an important role in host anti-viral defences. We measured natural killer cell activity in 30 individuals with acute measles (73 +/- 21 lytic units (LU)/10(7) cells) and 16 individuals with other infectious diseases (149 +/- 95 LU) and found it reduced compared with values for adults (375 +/- 70 LU; P less than 0.001) or children (300 +/- 73 LU, P less than 0.01) without infection. Reduced natural killer cell activity was found in measles patients with (84 +/- 30 LU) and without (55 +/- 18 LU) complications and was present for at least 3 weeks after the onset of the rash. Activity was increased by in vitro exposure of cells to interleukin-2. Depressed natural killer cell activity parallels in time the suppression of other parameters of cell-mediated immunity that occurs during measles.

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