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Clin Dev Immunol. 2011;2011:316314. doi: 10.1155/2011/316314. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Expansion of CD16-negative natural killer cells in the peripheral blood of patients with metastatic melanoma.

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Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Altered natural killer (NK) cell function is a component of the global immune dysregulation that occurs in advanced malignancies. Another condition associated with altered NK homeostasis is normal pregnancy, where robust infiltration with CD16- CD9+ NK cells can be identified in decidual tissues, along with a concomitant expansion of CD16- NK cells in the maternal peripheral blood. In metastatic melanoma, we identified a similar expansion of peripheral blood CD16- NK cells (median 7.4% in 41 patients with melanoma compared with 3.0% in 29 controls, P < .001). A subset of NK cells in melanoma patients also expresses CD9, which is characteristically expressed only on NK cells within the female reproductive tract. Expansion of CD16- NK cells was associated with elevated plasma transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β levels (median 20  ng/ml, Spearman's ρ = 0.81, P = .015)). These findings suggest the possibility of exploring anti-TGF-β therapy to restore NK function in melanoma.

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