Functional NK activity can be removed from human PBL and from phagocyte- and T cell-depleted LGL preparations by treatment with antisera specific for C-reactive protein (CRP) in the presence of complement (C). Pretreatment of NK effector cells with high concentrations of anti-CRP in the absence of C also depletes functional activity. These results indicate that CRP or an antigenically similar molecule is present on a population of NK effector cells. Fluorescent antibody studies in which biotin-avidin amplification was used confirm the presence of surface CRP (S-CRP) on a small percentage of nonphagocytic peripheral blood mononuclear cells. S-CRP readily caps off, which suggest that removal by capping obviates killing by this cell population. This indicates that S-CRP or a molecule that co-caps with S-CRP may be required for successful effector-target cell interaction. The addition of exogenous CRP or CRP-CPS complexes, however, does not alter NK responses. A subpopulation of lymphoid cells responsible for functional NK activity therefore appears to bear surface CRP.

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