Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells from normal donors obtained by separation on a Percoll gradient were incubated with free or liposome-entrapped lymphokines produced from concanavalin A-stimulated lymphocytes and then were tested for cytotoxic activity against tumor cells. The treated monocytes lysed tumorigenic melanoma and glioblastoma target cells, but had no effect on three types of nontumorigenic target cells. The activation of monocytes to become tumoricidal was caused by macrophage-activating factor (MAF) and not by contamination with endotoxins, concanavalin A, or interferon. The endocytosis of liposomes containing MAF, but not of those containing control supernatants, led to the activation of cytotoxic properties in the monocytes. Activation by liposome-encapsulated MAF was very efficient and required <1/800th of the amount of free MAF necessary to achieve the same levels of cytotoxicity. Thus, the encapsulation of mitogen-induced MAF in liposomes could provide an effective approach for the activation of blood monocytes in situ.
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