Propagation of large numbers of T cells with natural killer cell markers

Br J Haematol. 1994 Jul;87(3):453-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.1994.tb08297.x.


Previously, a subset of T cells co-expressing the NK cell antigen CD56 has been described. These CD3+CD56+ cells are rare in peripheral blood collections and have been poorly characterized. We have developed culture conditions which allow for the rapid expansion of CD3+CD56+ cells. The protocol for cellular expansion includes the addition of interferon-gamma on day 0, interleukin-1, interleukin-2 and a monoclonal antibody against CD3 on day 1 to peripheral blood lymphocytes. Cells of the CD3+CD56+ phenotype increased up to 6000-fold using this protocol after 16 d in culture. These cells have been characterized by flow cytometry and have been found to express the alpha, beta T cell receptor, co-express the CD5 and CD8 antigens and do not express the CD16 antigen. Morphologically, these cells cannot be distinguished from NK cells. CD3+CD56+ killer cells lyse a variety of tumour cells with intermediate activity between CD3-CD56+ NK cells and CD3+CD56- T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / physiology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / physiology
  • CD3 Complex / physiology
  • CD56 Antigen
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Lymphokine-Activated / physiology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / physiology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD3 Complex
  • CD56 Antigen