Selective phagocytosis of gram-positive bacteria and interleukin 1-like factor production by a subpopulation of large granular lymphocytes

T. Abo, S. Sugawara, A. Amenomori, H. Itoh, H. Rikiishi, I. Moro, K. Kumagai

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40 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a consensus that a large granular lymphocyte (LGL) population with natural killer (NK) function is nonadherent and nonphagocytic. However, a significant proportion of the nonadherent cells purified by the two-step depletion of adherent cells with a plastic surface and nylon wool columns engulfed Sta. aureus into their cytoplasm. These cells were morphologically identified as LGL in light and electron microscopies. Two-color immunofluorescence tests, furthermore, demonstrated that Leu-11+ LGL, Leu-11+7-, and Leu-11+7+, but not Leu-11-7+, phagocytosed Sta. aureus. Among the particles tested here, only Gram(+) bacteria were preferentially phagocytosed, whereas Gram(-) bacteria, other large-sized microbes (e.g., baker's yeast and Candida albicans), latex, silica, and carbonyl iron were not. LGL exhibited a substantial level of bactericidal activity against Sta. aureus, although the level was one third of that mediated by monocytes. When Gram(+) bacteria were incubated with nonadherent cells for 18 hr, significant amounts of interleukin 1 (IL 1)-like factors (or IL 1 itself) as well as interferon were detected in the supernatants. On the other hand, this incubation did not induce interleukin 2 (IL 2). The IL 1-like factor producer cells were demonstrated to be the low-density lymphocytes on Percoll separation and to have the Leu-11+ phenotype. The phagocytosis was suggested to be an important stimulus in producing IL 1-like factors from LGL. Thus, the treatment of cells with cytochalasin B, a microfilament disrupting agent, completely abrogated both phagocytosis and IL 1-like factor production. Some cell wall components of Gram(+) bacteria might be important to a recognition process of the phagocytosis, since the protoplasts of Sta. aureus, when prepared by the treatment of bacteria with lysostaphin, were no longer phagocytosed by LGL. The present results therefore identify an additional unique characteristic similar to, but not identical with, the myelomonocytic nature of Leu-11+ LGL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3189-3197
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1986


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