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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2013 Jul;62(7):1235-47. doi: 10.1007/s00262-013-1406-x. Epub 2013 Apr 27.

Antibody-dependent cell lysis by NK cells is preserved after sarcoma-induced inhibition of NK cell cytotoxicity.

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Department of Pediatrics, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma tumor cells are susceptible to IL15-induced or antibody-mediated cytolytic activity of NK cells in short-term cytotoxicity assays. When encountering the tumor environment in vivo, NK cells may be in contact with tumor cells for a prolonged time period. We explored whether a prolonged interaction with sarcoma cells can modulate the activation and cytotoxic activity of NK cells. The 40 h coculture of NK cells with sarcoma cells reversibly interfered with the IL15-induced expression of NKG2D, DNAM-1 and NKp30 and inhibited the cytolytic activity of NK cells. The inhibitory effects on receptor expression required physical contact between NK cells and sarcoma cells and were independent of TGF-β. Five days pre-incubation of NK cells with IL15 prevented the down-regulation of NKG2D and cytolytic activity in subsequent cocultures with sarcoma cells. NK cell FcγRIIIa/CD16 receptor expression and antibody-mediated cytotoxicity were not affected after the coculture. Inhibition of NK cell cytotoxicity was directly linked to the down-regulation of the respective NK cell-activating receptors. Our data demonstrate that the inhibitory effects of sarcoma cells on the cytolytic activity of NK cells do not affect the antibody-dependent cytotoxicity and can be prevented by pre-activation of NK cells with IL15. Thus, the combination of cytokine-activated NK cells and monoclonal antibody therapy may be required to improve tumor targeting and NK cell functionality in the tumor environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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