Requirement for natural killer cells in the induction of cytotoxic T cells

F. J. Kos, E. G. Engleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-mediated immunity involves the participation of both regulatory and cytotoxic cells. The conversion of precursors to effector CD8+ cytotoxic T (Tc) cells requires cell-cell collaboration in which CD4+ T cells are traditionally viewed as helper cells. An in vitro system was used here to demonstrate that the generation of human alloantigen-specific CD8+ Tc cells requires the participation of CD3-CD16+CD56+ NK cells but not CD4+ T helper cells. Depletion of NK cells from responders abolished the induction of alloantigen-specific Tc cells in mixed lymphocyte cultures (MLC). Purified CD5+CD8+ T cells stimulated with alloantigen proliferated but did not differentiate into fully functional effector Tc cells. Coculture of responder CD5+CD8+ T cells with NK cells promoted the conversion of CD8+ Tc cell precursors (pTc) into effector Tc cells. Anti-CD56 mAbs blocked Tc cell induction in MLC, suggesting a role for CD56 molecules expressed on NK cells in either alloantigen recognition or delivery of accessory signals to pTc cells. These findings suggest a novel critical link between the natural and specific immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-584
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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