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In Vivo. 2000 Sep-Oct;14(5):651-8.

Tumor blood supply and tumor localization by adoptively transferred IL-2 activated natural killer cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Göteborg, Sweden.


The circulatory pattern of IL-2 activated natural killer (A-NK) cells was studied in C57BL/6 mice bearing 10 day-old pulmonary and subcutaneous (s.c.) metastases of the B16 melanoma in order to evaluate the roles of the concentration of A-NK cells in the blood and of tumor blood flow on accumulation of A-NK cells in tumors. Kinetic studies of the presence of A-NK cells in peripheral blood after adoptive transfer revealed that these cells rapidly disappear from the blood. Via intravital microscopy of animals with exposed lung tissue, we have shown that the vast majority of transferred A-NK cells become efficiently arrested within the lung microcirculation at their first encounter with this organ, thereby explaining the fast disappearance of the cells from the bloodstream. Despite the low number of A-NK cells circulating in the blood, systemically injected A-NK cells (20 million per mouse) localized significantly (70-80 million cells/g) into most pulmonary metastases within 8-16 hours. In contrast, very few A-NK cells (< 0.2 million cells/g) were found in the s.c. metastases. Based on measurements of tumor blood flow (showing a classic inverse relationship between tumor size and tumor blood flow) and the blood concentration of A-NK cells, we estimated the highest intratumoral density of A-NK cells that theoretically can be generated by A-NK cells transported to the tumor by way of the blood. In s.c. tumors, the observed density of A-NK cells was at all times lower (10-50 fold) than the estimated density, indicating that only a few percent of the A-NK cells arriving at these tumors become retained in them. In contrast, the observed density of A-NK cells in pulmonary metastases was at all times higher (2-3 fold) than the estimated density. This finding indicates that A-NK cells might not reach the pulmonary metastases solely by way of the blood stream. In conclusion, i.v. injected A-NK cells become immediately entrapped in the lungs and, consequently, circulate poorly. While lung metastases become significantly infiltrated by i.v. injected A-NK cells, metastases in organs down-stream from the lungs become poorly infiltrated. We hypothesize that only a part of the A-NK cells found in lung metastases 8-16 hours following injection reach these metastases by way of the blood-vascular system. They might also migrate into the metastases from the surrounding normal lung tissue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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