Published March 1, 1982 - More info
The natural killer (NK)-interferon (IFN) system is shown to be significantly involved in the resistance of host to viral infections and to tumours in numbers of animal models (1-4). The patients with Sjögren syndrome (SS) as well as those with collagen diseases were systematically investigated for the functions of NK-IFN system, including endogenous and augmented NK activity, IFN production, and responsiveness of NK cells to IFN stimulation, using virus persistently infected cells (heLa-measles cells) as target and stimulator cells. Although endogenous NK activity was not reduced, augmented NK activity by HeLa-measles cells in vitro was significantly depressed in patients with SS compared with that in age-matched normal controls. The patients with SS had also impaired capacity to produce IFN, which is shown to be a major factor regulating NK activity (5,6) in response to HeLa-measles cells in vitro. In three patients with SS who showed severely depressed NK activity, the effect of exogenous IFN was examined, and virtually no augmentation of NK activity was observed in all cases. Under the same condition, the normal controls demonstrated a dramatic increase in NK activity. The reduced IFN production was observed in all examined patients with SS, whereas impaired augmentation of NK activity by the stimulation with HeLa-measles cells as well as IFN seemed to be more striking in patients with the systemic manifestations of the disease, such as hypergammaglobulinemia and lymphoid hyperplasia. The possible involvement of dysfunction of NK-IFN system in the systemic manifestations of SS is discussed.