The physiological mechanisms of decreased NK activity of beta-Thalassemia major (BTM) patients are unknown. To assess in vitro effects of mononuclear cells and their cytokine secretion on NK activity, we compared activator receptor levels and cytotoxic activity of purified NK cells and NK cells in mononuclear cells (MNC) pools. We collected cell supernatant from unincubated and incubated MNC with K562 cells and measured their secreted cytokines levels. CD16 was lower on the surface of NK cells in MNC pools from BTM patients compared to healthy volunteers. This inhibition does not appear when NK cells were purified. NKp30 levels in NK cells decreased both as purified cells and as part of a pool of MNC in BTM patients. After incubation of MNC pools with K562 target cells, we found that supernatant levels of IL10, TGE beta 1 and IL15 cytokines were also significantly higher in BTM patients compared to healthy volunteers. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.