Elevated natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity, plasma interferon, and tumor cell rejection in mice persistently infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus

UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Pathology; Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


To assess the effects of chronic virus infection on NK cells, the related phenomena of interferon (IFN) production, NK cell activation, and resistance to tumor implants were studied in mice persistently infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). NK cells from these LCMV-carrier mice displayed augmented killing of the NK-sensitive YAC-1 target cell. They did not lyse the more resistant targets L-929 and P815, whereas NK cells from acutely infected mice efficiently lysed all three cell types. The plasma from LCMV-carrier mice contained an antiviral substance identified as IFN type I, based on species specificity, virus nonspecificity, resistance to pH 2, and sensitivity to antibody to type I IFN. IFN titers in plasma from LCMV-carrier mice were 32 to 64 U/ml, about 20-fold less than those in acutely infected mice. Both the IFN and NK cell levels continuously remained elevated in the LCMV carrier mice up to at least 6 months of age. IFN is known to activate NK cells and to induce their blastogenesis in vivo. As determined by centrifugal elutriation, large NK blast-size cells were isolated from the spleens of acutely infected mice, but not from either normal or LCMV-carrier mice, suggesting augmented NK cell-mediated lysis in the absence of enhanced proliferation. Poly inosinic-cytidylic acid induced high levels of NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity and blastogenesis in both control and LCMV-carrier mice, but IFN was induced to lower levels in carriers as compared with controls. Coincidental with augmented NK cell activity, the LCMV-carrier mice rejected intravenously injected 125IUdR-labeled tumor cells more efficiently than did normal mice. Thus, LCMV carrier mice have low levels of type I IFN, moderately augmented NK cell activity lasting for at least 6 months, and increased resistance to tumor cell implants. This indicates that augmented NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity can be maintained in vivo over prolonged periods of time in the presence of chronic low-level IFN stimulation.


J Immunol. 1983 Aug;131(2):991-6.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

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