IgG Fc- cytotoxic cells found in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis have natural killer (NK)-like characteristics but can kill NK-resistant cell lines as well. The phenotype of these cells was defined by complement-mediated lysis with monoclonal antibodies. The synovial fluid killer cell activity was significantly reduced by treatment with complement and OKT11 and 4F2, but the cytotoxic T cells did not express the NK-related antigens OKM1 and Leu-7, nor the cytotoxic T lymphocyte-specific antigen, OKT8. These results demonstrate that the synovial fluid killer cells resemble the activated T cells generated in an autologous mixed leukocyte reaction or in the treatment of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with interleukin 2, and they are distinct from the conventional NK cells found in blood.

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