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J Immunother. 2006 Jan-Feb;29(1):53-60.

Long-term preservation of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) of natural killer cells amplified in vitro from the peripheral blood of breast cancer patients after chemotherapy.

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INSERM U601, Nantes cedex, France.


Twenty percent of breast cancer adenocarcinomas overexpress the oncogene c-erb-2 that is recognized by the humanized anti-Her2/neu monoclonal antibody Herceptin. Results from clinical studies suggest that antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) is involved in the clinical response of Herceptin-treated patients. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the possibility of amplifying in vitro the CD3-/CD16+ natural killer (NK) cell subset that mediates ADCC from breast cancer patients after chemotherapy. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from six breast cancer patients taken 2 months after chemotherapy completion were co-cultured with an autologous irradiated Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B-lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL) in the presence of interleukin-2 (IL-2) for 4-6 weeks. These LCL + IL2 activated cultures (ACs) were tested for ADCC potential, and their CD3/CD16 NK proportion was quantified. Among the ACs, the proportion of CD3-/CD16+ NK cells increased up to 64% over the first 2 weeks of culture and the ACs continued to expand for 1 month thereafter. Control and patient ACs displayed ADCC activity (tested in the presence of Rituximab against the autologous LCL to take into account any possible effect of inhibitory NK receptors) as well as against the MCF-7(Her2/neu) breast cancer cell line in the presence of Herceptin. This ADCC activity was maintained during the entire culture period. In conclusion, chemotherapy in breast cancer patients does not obviate the possibility of amplifying in vitro the NK cell subset that mediates ADCC. Consequently, adoptive transfer of lymphocytes mediating ADCC can be considered using this protocol to test its benefit in patients under Herceptin treatment.

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