Differential activation of cytotoxic responses by Burkitt's lymphoma (BL)-cell lines: relationship to the BL-cell surface phenotype

Cell Immunol. 1986 Oct 1;102(1):99-112. doi: 10.1016/0008-8749(86)90329-1.


Epstein-Barr (EB) virus-positive Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cell lines, recently established from tumour biopsies and displaying chromosomal translocations indicative of their malignant origin, can be classified into two broad sets: (i) lines growing predominantly as single cells/small clumps whose cell surface markers remain close to those of the original tumour cells, and (ii) lines whose growth pattern and cell surface markers have progressed closer to the more "lymphoblastoid" phenotype displayed by all in vitro transformed B-cell lines (LCLs) of normal origin. When compared to LCLs derived from normal B cells of the same patient, BL-cell lines in set (i) generally showed a lower expression of HLA class I and class II antigens and a reduced ability to activate both allospecific and nonspecific (natural killer-like) cytotoxic responses when cocultured with peripheral blood lymphocytes. By contrast, the HLA antigen expression and in vitro stimulatory capacity of most BL-cell lines in set (ii) were much closer to the values displayed by their corresponding LCLs. Since set (i) rather than set (ii) BL cell lines are phenotypically representative of the malignant cells as they exist in vivo, this work suggests that successful outgrowth of the virus-carrying tumour cells in the affected host may be facilitated by the inability of these cells to stimulate strong cytotoxic responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / pathology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Clone Cells / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • HLA Antigens / analysis
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Humans
  • Phenotype


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • HLA Antigens