The marginating-pulmonary immune compartment in rats: Characteristics of continuous inflammation and activated NK cells

Rivka Melamed, Ella Rosenne, Marganit Benish, Yael Goldfarb, Ben Levi, Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A significant role has been indicated for cellular immunity in controlling circulating cancer cells, but most autologous tumor cells seem resistant, in vitro, to natural killer cell (NKC) and cytotoxic T lymphocytes cytotoxicity. Addressing this apparent contradiction, we recently identified a unique leukocyte population, marginating-pulmonary (MP)-leukocytes, which exhibit potent natural killer (NK) cytotoxicity. Here, we characterize the MP-compartment in naive and immunostimulated rats, and assessed its cytotoxicity against "NK-resistant" tumors cells. Animals were treated with poly I-C (3×0.2mg/kg) or saline, and circulating-leukocytes and MP-leukocytes were collected and analyzed in terms of cellular composition, cellular activation markers, and NK cytotoxicity of leukocytes and purified NKCs. Compared with circulating-leukocytes, MP-leukocytes showed greater proportion of granulocytes, monocytes, NKCs, and large NKCs; higher expression of activation and adhesion markers (CD25, CD11a, CD11b, and NKR-P1, IFN-γ); and elevated NK cytotoxicity of leukocytes and purified NKCs against several syngeneic and xenogeneic NK-resistant target cells (from both F344 and BDX inbred rats). In immunostimulated animals (treated with poly I-C), but not in naive animals, purified NKCs from the MP-compartment showed markedly superior cytotoxicity, suggesting that poly I-C immunostimulation uniquely affect MP-NKCs, and that in naive animals other MP-leukocytes support NK cytotoxicity. Overall, the results suggest that the MP-compartment is characterized by a continuous activated inflammatory microenvironment uniquely affected by immunostimulation. If similarly potent MP-NKCs exist in patients, then circulating autologous tumor cells that are considered "NK-resistant" could actually be controlled by MP-NKCs. Innate immunity may assume greater role in controlling malignant spread, especially after immunostimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Immunotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Cell activation
  • Lung
  • Natural killer cells
  • Rat
  • Tumor immunity


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