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Abstract

The results of natural killer cell (NK) studies on 539 normal healthy donors tested from once to 213 times over a seven-year time span have been presented. NK activity did not vary with donor blood group, Rh type or (in a small sample) HLA type. There was a slight but significant increase in NK activity from birth to adulthood, and between males and females. The male/female difference was present at birth and persisted through adulthood. The relative NK activity of individual donors tested repeatedly over many years was remarkably consistent in spite of variability in the absolute cytotoxidty observed. The expression of NK data in terms of relative NK was found to be superior to other methods, and the values obtained were found to be independent of the NK-sensitive target cell used. Although age and sex differences in NK activity are slight, their existence should be considered when studies of NK activity in patients are analysed.