Conventional and nude mice inoculated with syngeneic or allogenic tumor cells developed a rapid rise in serum interferon (IF) levels, peaking within 24 h. Within the same period, natural killer (NK) activity was readily boosted in the spleen. Both activities usually declined at 3 d. Cells that lacked the ability to augment NK activity also failed to induce detectable levels of IF. The boosting of IF and NK functions did not appear to be a result of contamination of the tumor lines by viruses because inoculation of several type C viruses into normal mice had no effect, and other viruses, like lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and influenza, elevated IF and NK levels with a significantly later kinetics, peaking 3-4 d. The IF induced by tumor cells was heat and acid labile, species specific, and appeared to be in the type II class, although it was susceptible to antisera against Newcastle disease virus-induced IF. These data suggest that an early, nonthymus-dependent consequence of tumor-cell recognition is the production of IF, which, in turn, activates NK cells to lyse the tumor cells.

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