Acute marrow graft rejection in allogeneic or semiallogeneic donor-recipient mouse combinations has been suggested to be caused by natural killer (NK) cells. The unique in vitro specificity of NK cells for tumor cells, however, does not explain the specific rejection of bone marrow grafts by NK cells. Recent experiments have implicated antibody in marrow graft recipients as the specificity-inducing component that guides NK cells in an antibody-dependent cytotoxic (ADCC) reaction to attack the marrow graft. On the basis of this hypothesis, one would postulate that nonresponder marrow graft recipients can be converted into responders by injection with antibody of appropriate specificity. Results presented in this report show that this is indeed possible. Specific monoclonal or polyclonal antibody of IgG isotype induces marrow graft rejection in nonresponder recipients. This can be demonstrated in allogeneic as well as in semi-allogeneic (hybrid resistance) donor-recipient strain combinations. Antibody-induced marrow graft rejection is independent of complement and dependent on the presence of NK cells. Surprisingly, graft rejection induced by antibody is quite efficient in allogeneic and semiallogeneic marrow donor-recipient combinations, whereas it is generally poor in syngeneic combinations. This result is not understood if NK cells lyse bone marrow cells solely in an ADCC-type reaction. Because NK cells can lyse targets in an antibody-dependent as well as independent reaction, it is proposed that the binding of NK cells to targets via their receptors plays an additional role in the rejection of bone marrow in vivo. Preliminary evidence for this possibility is that NK cells in the apparent absence of antibody may have a detectable suppressive effect on the growth of marrow grafts in F1 hybrid mice transplanted with parental marrow grafts.

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