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NK cell-sensitive T-cell subpopulation in thymus: inverse correlation to host NK activity


NATURAL KILLER (NK) cells have been shown to have an important role in resistance to some tumours (see ref. 1 for review) and it has been suggested that these NK cells may represent a T cell and macrophage-independent surveillance mechanism2 similar in principle to the theory proposed by Burnet3 and Thomas4. Recent observations have led to the speculation that NK cells may also have a physiological role in vivo as NK cells were closely associated with the rejection of bone marrow grafts5,6. Although the target ‘antigens’ of NK cells have not yet been fully defined7, a wide range of malignant and non-transformed cells, including normal thymocytes17 and bone marrow cells8 are also sensitive to low levels of NK-mediated cytolysis. We provide evidence here to support the view that the NK cells may be involved in the control of normal T-cell subpopulations within the thymus.

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HANSSON, M., KIESSLING, R., ANDERSSON, B. et al. NK cell-sensitive T-cell subpopulation in thymus: inverse correlation to host NK activity. Nature 278, 174–176 (1979).

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