Up-Regulation of Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity by Interleukin-2: The Effect of Sex and Parity


University Department of Pathology, University of Newcastle, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK.


PROBLEM: Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from some, but not all, female donors showed increased cytotoxicity in response to interleukin (IL)-2.

METHOD OF STUDY: The effect of IL-2 on natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity was compared in nulliparous females, parous females, and males. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were preincubated for 20 or 72 hr with 5 or 100 U/ml IL-2 and cytotoxicity against K562 targets was then examined.

RESULTS: In the parous females, only the 72-hr preincubation with 100 U/ml IL-2 significantly increased NK cell cytotoxicity, whereas nulliparous females also showed significantly increased cytotoxicity after a 20-hr preincubation with 100 U/ml IL-2. Neither female subject group had increased activity after preincubation for 20 or 72 hr with 5 U/ml IL-2. However, male peripheral blood lymphocytes also showed a significant increase in NK cell cytotoxicity when preincubated for 72 hr with 5 U/ml IL-2.

CONCLUSIONS: The effect of IL-2 on NK cell cytotoxic activity may be related to sex and the state of parity.