Spontaneous human lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity against tumor target cells. IX. The quantitation of natural killer cell activity

J Clin Immunol. 1981 Jan;1(1):51-63. doi: 10.1007/BF00915477.


On analysis of in vitro assays of human natural killer (NK) cell function the inadequacy of commonly used methods of expressing lytic activity was apparent. A comparison was made of the data obtained using modifications of two equations-the simple exponential fit and the von Krogh equations. Both of these equations were found to satisfy the following essential criteria for use in these assays. First, the majority of the results obtained in the chromium-release assay could be used in data reduction; second, the resultant "dose-response" curve was reduced to linearity; and third, a single numerical expression was obtained which was directly proportional to the cytotoxic activity. Of the two methods the more conventional exponential fit was found to be the simpler to use. The closeness of fit of the experimentally derived data to the ideal curves did not support the possibility that normal lymphocyte preparations contain suppressor cells capable of inhibiting NK activity. Data have also been presented showing that NK-sensitive targets could be categorized with respect to their susceptibility by comparing the slopes of the target cell survival curves obtained using the exponential fit equation. These observations are relevant to the accurate assessment of NK activity in patient populations and to the determination of the effects of disease and its treatment on this activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Chromium Radioisotopes
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic / methods
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Mice
  • Time Factors


  • Chromium Radioisotopes