Induction of “natural killer” cells by BCG


THE past decade has witnessed numerous attempts to suppress tumour growth by the administration of immune stimulants. Notable successes have been achieved, particularly following the intralesional injection of Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) which has been observed to cause the regression of local tumour nodules in both experimental animals1,2 and man3–5. Although there is some controversy as to the mode of action of BCG, it has become widely accepted that its anti-tumour effects are principally mediated through host macrophages, “activated” by the immunostimulant6–8. Observations we have recently made in studies of the peritoneal exudates of BCG-infected mice suggest an alternative possibility: that tumour destruction is caused by a non-macrophage population of cytotoxic cells which is induced by BCG immunisation.

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