In vitro stimulation of human mononuclear cells with x-irradiated autologous lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL) or allogeneic normal cells in mixed leukocyte cultures (MLC) was previously shown to result in the generation of OKT3+ OKT8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) lytic for allogeneic and autologous LCLs and also of natural killer- (NK) like cells that are OKT3- and primarily OKT8- and are lytic for HLA- NK-sensitive K562 cells. The origin of the NK-like cells was not previously known because, although the majority of fresh human NK cells react with monoclonal antibodies OKM1 and B73.1, lymphocytes bearing these markers are not detected several days after the onset of MLC, when NK-like cells are present. In this study, experiments were undertaken to determine whether NK-like cells generated after stimulation with x-irradiated pooled allogeneic normal cells (poolx) or with autologous LCL are derived from cells expressing antigens reactive with monoclonal antibodies OKM1 or B73.1, which react with fresh NK cells. Mononuclear cells, depleted of monocytes, were stained with OKM1 or B73.1 and fluorescein-labeled goat anti-mouse IgG. Lymphocytes depleted of OKM1+ or B73.1+ cells, by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, and lymphocytes that were stained but not sorted were stimulated for 7 days with either poolx or autologous LCL. The generation of NK-like activity was decreased at least 90% after depletion of cells reactive with OKM1 or B73.1, whereas the generation of CTL against autologous and allogeneic LCL was minimally affected. These findings show that NK-like cells generated in MLC are derived from cells that express the phenotype of fresh NK cells (OKM1+ or B73.1+) and that CTL can be generated in cultures in which relatively little NK-like activity is concomitantly detected, by depleting NK cells with monoclonal antibodies before stimulation.

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