The naturally-occurring antibody-independent cellular cytotoxic activity (NOCC) of normal circulating human monocytes and neutrophils was investigated employing a number of erythrocytes and the K-562 cell line as target cells simultaneously. The identity of the effector cell(s) was shown to be dependent upon or be a function of the type of target cell selected for the assay system. A number of erythrocyte targets (rabbit, horse, sheep and ox erythrocytes) were lysed to varying degrees by neutrophils and monocytes and not by lymphocytes. Irrespective of the red blood cell (RBC) target, the effector monocyte invariably possessed receptors for both C'3 and the Fc of IgG. In contrast, the cytotoxic cells using the K-562 target cell were lymphocytes. Monocytes and neutrophils were inactive. The cytotoxic-enhancing activity in normal human serum exhibits specific and non-specific properties which suggests that more than one factor is involved. With respect to the monocyte cytotoxic cells, only the rabbit erythrocytes could totally absorb the serum factor in a specific fashion. Absorption of the serum with horse, sheep or ox erythrocytes resulted in a significant loss of potentiating activity with respect to all of the erythrocyte targets but a more marked loss of activity using the absorbing erythrocytes as targets. With respect to the polymorphonuclear leucocyte effector cells, only the rabbit RBC were capable of specifically absorbing out the cytotoxic-enhancing factor present in the normal human serum. Absorption of the serum with sheep, horse or ox RBC resulted in total cross-absorption of the enhancing factor. Chicken and human RBC, which do not serve as targets for the NOCC assay, could not absorb out the cytotoxic-enhancing factor with respect to any of the target erythrocytes. The composition of the soluble serum factor(s) is under current investigation but it is not an immunoglobulin since pure serum albumin can substitute for normal serum in the NOCC assay. The mechanism of erythrocyte lysis by the cytotoxic monocyte was investigated. Mononuclear cells were incubated with target cell monolayers and with target cells under optimal rosetting conditions. No interaction between the effector and target cells could be detected. The monocytes did not adhere to the target cell monolayer nor did they form rosettes with the target cells. Thus, the results fail to corroborate or support the assumption that the cytotoxic activity of the monocyte is dependent upon conventionally-detectable receptors. Erythrophagocytosis was not observed to any significant degree under the assay conditions used. Therefore, the nature of the interaction between the cytotoxic monocyte and the erythroid target cell which results in lysis of the target cell remains to be elucidated
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