The mechanism of human peripheral blood monocyte-mediated cytotoxicity for tumor cells was investigated, using the A673 human rhabdomyosarcoma and HT-29 human colon adenocarcinoma lines as target cells. A673 cells were shown to be susceptible to the cytotoxic action of purified recombinant human tumor necrosis factor (TNF). A673 cells were also highly sensitive to the cytotoxic action of peripheral blood monocytes. Clones of A673 cells sensitive and resistant to TNF were isolated and characterized for their sensitivity to monocyte killing. A good correlation was found between the sensitivity of these clones to the cytotoxicity of TNF and their susceptibility to killing by monocytes. A TNF-specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) reduced monocyte killing of parental A673 cells and of a TNF-sensitive clone of A673 cells. Inhibition of monocyte killing by this MAb was particularly pronounced at a low effector to target cell ratio. HT-29 cells were relatively resistant to the cytotoxic action of recombinant TNF and to monocyte killing. Treatment of HT-29 cells with recombinant human IFN-gamma increased their susceptibility to both TNF cytotoxicity and monocyte killing. In addition, MAb to TNF inhibited monocyte killing in HT-29 cells sensitized by incubation with IFN-gamma. Our data show that TNF is an important mediator of the cytotoxicity of human monocytes for tumor cells and that IFN-gamma can increase monocyte cytotoxicity by sensitizing target cells to the lytic action of TNF.

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