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Extranodal, nasal NK/T-cell lymphomas are regularly Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive, with a type II latency pattern, expressing thus EBNA-1 and LMP1. The contribution of EBV to the tumor development is not known. Similarly to normal natural killer (NK) cells, cell lines derived from malignancies with a NK phenotype require IL-2 forin vitroproliferation. In our effort to explore the contribution of EBV, particularly the role of the LMP1 protein, to the pathogenesis of the NK lymphoma we found that its expression, studied in the NK-lines SNK6 and KAI3, depended on the supply of IL-2 or other cytokines. In the absence of IL-2 other cytokines, such as IL-10 and IFN-γ, could maintain LMP1, but the cells did not proliferate. When grown in IL-2, the SNK6 cells produced IL-10 and IFN-γ, and these cytokines mediated the expression of LMP1. IL-10 treatment enhanced, while IFN-γ receptor blocking antibody reduced, the expression of CD25 and CD54 in the EBV-positive, but not in the EBV-negative lines. IL-10 treated cells required lower amount of IL-2 for proliferation compared to the untreated cells. This effect was seen only with the EBV-positive NK lines in which LMP1 and CD25 were concomitantly upregulated. By this mechanism EBV could have an important role in the development of NK lymphoma since the inflammatory component in the tumor tissue can provide these cytokines.