Thymosin alpha 1 effects, in vitro, on lymphokine-activated killer cells from patients with primary immunodeficiencies: preliminary results

Int J Immunopharmacol. 1994 Dec;16(12):1019-25. doi: 10.1016/0192-0561(94)90081-7.


In patients with primary immunodeficiencies the role of natural killer (NK)- and lymphokine (IL-2)-activated killer (LAK)-cells is not yet satisfactorily established. Using a clonogenic assay with K562 leukemia target cells, we studied their NK- and LAK-cell activity in vitro. Moreover, the effect of thymosin alpha 1 (T alpha 1) on LAK-cell activity was studied in 11 patients with different immunodeficiencies. The results were compared with data of healthy controls (n = 11) and cord blood samples (n = 6). Common variable immunodeficiency patients demonstrated a mean LAK-cell activity of about 65% of normal controls and cord blood samples. The moderately reduced LAK-cell activity was not affected by T alpha 1. In the immunodeficient other patients, low levels of LAK-cell activity with a mean value of 10% of normal controls were seen. The mean LAK-cell activity could be improved by T alpha 1: three patients showed an improvement of their LAK-cell activity up to 25-30% after T alpha 1 administration in vitro, but in one case T alpha 1 was without any effect. Analysis of the expression of the surface markers CD8, CD16, CD57 and CD8/CD57 revealed that only CD16 positive lymphocytes were significantly less in immunodeficient patients. We found a linear correlation between LAK-cell activity and CD8/CD57 double positive lymphocytes in all patients. Our results demonstrate that suppressed LAK-cell activity from immunodeficient patients can be individually improved by T alpha 1. Further in vivo studies should evaluate thymic peptide immunotherapy for individual immunodeficient patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Child
  • Fetal Blood / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Lymphokine-Activated / drug effects*
  • Killer Cells, Lymphokine-Activated / immunology
  • Thymalfasin
  • Thymosin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Thymosin / pharmacology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Thymosin
  • Thymalfasin