Natural killer activity of human liver-derived lymphocytes in various liver diseases

Hepatology. 1991 Sep;14(3):495-503.


Liver-derived lymphocytes were isolated from 40 human livers with end-stage liver disease that were removed at the time of orthotopic liver transplantation. In addition, 10 resection specimens or whole livers removed from patients with liver cancer and seven normal livers (unused donor organs) were studied as controls. Liver-derived lymphocytes were isolated from enzymatically digested tissue by gradient centrifugation and adherence to plastic. Their phenotypical characteristics were studied by two-color flow cytometry, and effector cell function was determined in 4-hr 51Cr-release assays against a natural killer-sensitive target, K562 (natural killer activity), natural killer-resistant Daudi line (lymphokine-activated killer activity) and by P815 line with or without phytohemagglutinin to assess lectin-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Liver-derived lymphocytes isolated from normal liver contained equal proportions of T and natural killer lymphocytes (mean natural killer/T ratio = 0.7). CD3-CD56+CD16- natural killer cells were the main natural killer subset present in liver-derived lymphocytes, in contrast to the predominant natural killer phenotype in the circulation (CD56+CD16+). Control liver-derived lymphocytes had levels of cytotoxicity significantly greater than those of the normal peripheral-blood lymphocytes against all three targets. In contrast, liver-derived lymphocytes isolated from organs with advanced liver disease differed markedly in the natural killer/T cell ratio and levels of liver-derived lymphocyte cytotoxicity. Liver-derived lymphocytes obtained from hepatocellular carcinoma or rejecting allografts treated by immunosuppressive therapy had virtually no cytotoxicity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Cell Line
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype


  • Antigens, CD