The role of adhesion molecules in the recruitment of hepatic natural killer cells (pit cells) in rat liver

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Abstract

Previous studies showed that blood large granular lymphocytes (LGL), which possess natural killer (NK) activity, develop within rat liver sinusoids into high-density (HD) and subsequently into low-density (LD) pit cells which show an increasing level and spectrum of tumor cytotoxicity. In this study, we investigated the role of adhesion molecules, such as CD2, CD11a, CD18, and CD54 in the recruitment of pit cells to the liver. Immunostaining for electron microscopy, and two color flow cytometry showed that most pit cells expressed CD2, CD11a, CD18, and CD54. After intravenous injections into rats with anti-CD2, anti-CD11a, and anti-CD18 antibodies, the number of pit cells per square millimeter in frozen sections of liver tissue decreased. Treatment of rats with zymosan increased the number of pit cells fivefold, whereas subsequent treatment with anti-adhesion-molecule antibodies resulted in approximately 60% lower number of pit cells. Anti-CD54, supposed to block CD54 expression on sinusoidal endothelial cells, also decreased the number of pit cells. The number of blood LGL was, however, not affected by these antibodies. These results indicate that blocking of CD2, CD11a, CD18, and CD54 antigens on blood LGL and/or liver endothelium decreased the number of pit cells in the liver. These adhesion molecules therefore play an important role in the recruitment of pit cells in the liver.

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