Natural killer-cell activity in cyclosporine-treated renal allograft recipients

Journal of Clinical Immunology
M LefkowitzD Jorkasky


We prospectively studied natural killer (NK)-cell activity in 16 cyclosporine-treated renal transplant recipients. NK function remained intact in the group as a whole in the initial 6 months following transplantation. The percentage of CD16-positive cells within the peripheral blood mononuclear-cell population was highly correlated with NK activity both prior to and following transplantation in the absence of rejection. During rejection, the correlation was poor. A marked increase in NK activity occurred during 9 of 12 rejection episodes; similar increases in NK activity were rarely observed in the absence of rejection. Significant infiltrates of NK cells, as determined by expression of CD16, were not demonstrated in stained biopsy specimens obtained from rejecting allografts. Pretransplant NK activity did not predict clinical outcome of the allograft. Our results indicate that NK cells are activated during allograft rejection in cyclosporine-treated patients, but their exact role in the rejection process is unknown.


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