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Spontaneous cell-mediated cytotoxicity (SCMC) has been investigated in mononuclear cells (MNC) isolated from intestinal mucosa and autologous peripheral blood from human subjects. The proportion of cells with the NK-K phenotype (Leu 7+) were substantially lower in intestinal MNC than in autologous peripheral blood. SCMC of K-562 target cells when tested at an effector to target (E:T) ratio equivalent to that used for peripheral blood MNC was markedly deficient in intestinal MNC. This was not due to the effect of EDTA and collagenase used in the isolation process. However, at high E:T, ratios, significant cytotoxicity was demonstrated for most intestines examined probably reflecting a low proportion of effector cells within the intestinal MNC population. SCMC in both intestinal and autologous peripheral blood MNC were similarly related to the Leu 7+:T ratios used in the assay indirectly suggesting that the Leu 7+ cell may be responsible for the observed cytotoxicity. It is concluded that the apparent functional difference between similar cells derived from different sites may be largely related to differing proportions of effector cells. The findings indicate the need for specific definition of the effector cell and suggest that intestinal SCMC in health and various disease states requires re-appraisal.


Journal article


Clinical and experimental immunology

Publication Date





438 - 444


Intestinal Mucosa, Colon, Killer Cells, Natural, Humans, Intestinal Diseases, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic