Purine metabolites suppress proliferation of human NK cells through a lineage-specific purine receptor

Jeffrey S. Miller, Tereza Cervenka, Jeanne Lund, Ian J. Okazaki, Joel Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


NK cell proliferation is suppressed in some patients with cancer by unknown mechanisms. Because purine metabolites released into the extracellular space during cell lysis may affect cell function, we hypothesized that these metabolites could serve as feedback regulators of NK cell proliferation. Sorted NK (CD56+/CD3-) cells were incubated with IL-2 (1000 U/ml) in a 4-day thymidine uptake assay with or without 10-10,000 μM of nucleotides. Adenine nucleotides inhibited NK cell proliferation, with ATP = ADP > 5'-adenylylimidodiphosphate > AMP = adenosine; ADP-ribose and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, but not nicotinamide or UTP, caused a dose-dependent suppression of thymidine uptake. A total of 100 μM ATP, a concentration that induced a maximal (80%) inhibition of thymidine uptake, did not inhibit cytotoxic activity against K562 targets. Because NK cells retained the ability to lyse K562 targets 4 days after exposure to 500 μM ATP or 1000 μM adenosine, inhibition of thymidine uptake was not due to cell death. Incubation of NK cells with dibutyryl cAMP and forskolin also suppressed thymidine uptake. Cholera toxin and pertussis toxin suppressed NK cell proliferation. Pertussis toxin did not block the adenine nucleotide effects. Further, ATP, but not adenosine or other nucleotides, markedly increased intracellular cAMP in a dose-dependent manner. The ATP-induced increase in cAMP was specific to cytolytic cells, because CD19+ B cells and CD4+ T cells did not increase their intracellular cAMP. These studies demonstrate that NK proliferation is regulated through purine receptors by adenine nucleotides, which may play a role in decreased NK cell activity. The response to adenine nucleotides is lineage-specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7376-7382
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1999


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