Inhibition of interleukin-2-stimulated enhancement of human natural killer (NK) cell activity by carbaryl, an anticholinesterase insecticide

George P. Casale, Sina Bavari, Roger E. Gold, Edward F. Vitzthum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The potency of the anticholinesterase (antiCHE) insecticides as serine hydrolase inhibitors, and evidence for serine hydrolase activity in interleukin-2 (IL2) signalling suggest that the natural killer (NK) cell may be a target for dysregulation by antiCHE insecticides. NK cells are large granular lymphocytes (LGL) that respond to IL2 by proliferating and increasing their cytolytic efficiency. In the present study, we assessed the effects of carbaryl (CA, an antiCHE insecticide) and α-naphthol (NA, the major metabolite of CA) on both target cell killing per se and IL2 enhancement of target cell killing by human NK cells. Human LGL, collected from the peripheral blood of normal donors, were cultured for 4 days with human recombinant IL2 (HRIL2), then assayed by a 51Chromium (51Cr) release assay for lytic activity against human K562 cells. When added at the beginning of the culture period, CA inhibited enhancement of cytolytic efficiency in a concentration-dependent manner; at concentrations (0.5 and 5.0 μM) compatible with no cholinergic toxicity. Reduction of the effector/target cell (E/T) ratio in the 51Cr release assay markedly enhanced the observed inhibition by CA. In one experiment, inhibition increased from 6% to 20%, 17% to 35%, and 53% to 73% at 0.5, 5.0, and 50 μM CA, respectively, when E/T was reduced from 10:1 to 2.5:1. This result is consistent with reduced cytolytic efficiency of individual NK cells exposed to CA. NA had no effect at 0.5 or 5.0 μM but caused some inhibition at 50 μM. Neither CA nor NA produced LGL death. When CA or NA was added directly to the 51Cr release assay, inhibition was not observed. The mechanism of inhibition of IL2-stimulated enhancement of target cell killing is not yet known, however, the results are consistent with impairment of IL2 signalling, by CA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-311
Number of pages13
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Anticholinesterase
  • Interleukin-2
  • Natural killer cell
  • Serine hydrolase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition of interleukin-2-stimulated enhancement of human natural killer (NK) cell activity by carbaryl, an anticholinesterase insecticide'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this