The ability of NK cells to lyse noncultured solid tumor cells was investigated, and the results were compared with lysis of K562. Purified NK cell fractions separated by either Percoll centrifugation or a cell sorter exhibited higher level of lysis against noncultured melanoma cells than did NK-depleted cell fractions. However, the level of lysis was low (less than 10% lysis). Adding recombinant interleukin 2 (rIL 2) to the 4-hr assay induced significant lysis (more than 10%) of noncultured melanoma cells in 18 of 23 (78%) Percoll-enriched NK cell fractions and seven of 11 (64%) sorted Leu-11a+ cells at an E:T ratio of 80 and 10, respectively. In contrast, only two of 13 (14%) PBMC, five of 17 (29%) Percoll-decreased NK cell fractions, and one of 12 (8%) sorted Leu-11a- cells lysed noncultured melanomas in the presence of rIL 2. rIL 2 induced NK cells to lyse noncultured lung and breast cancer cells, as well as melanoma tumors. Exposure of NK cells to 2000 rad radiation abrogated the rIL 2-induced cytotoxicity against noncultured melanomas. Preculture of PBMC for 18 hr with recombinant interferon-gamma (rIFN-gamma) resulted in a modest level of lysis of non-cultured melanomas by sorted Leu-11a+ cells. Adding rIL 2 to the assay increased the cytotoxic activity in both rIFN-gamma-activated Leu-11a+ and Leu-7+ NK subsets. The level of noncultured tumor lysis correlated well with that of K562 lysis in all of the experiments. Purified NK cell fractions in rIL 2 cultures increased cytotoxic activity against noncultured tumor cells with incubation time for up to 3 days, and the level of NK cell-mediated lysis was dependent on both doses of rIL 2 and length of incubation. In contrast, both NK-depleted and sorted Leu-11a- cells demonstrated very low levels of solid tumor lysis after 3-day cultures with a high dose of rIL 2. Killer cell precursors induced by 3-day cultures of sorted cell fractions with rIL 2 and rIFN-gamma were found in both Leu-11a+ and Leu-7+ NK subsets, but not Leu-4+ or Leu-3a+ T lymphocytes. These results indicate that NK cells become cytotoxic for noncultured solid tumor cells by a brief contact with rIL 2, and increase cytotoxic activity after culture with rIL 2.

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