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Oncoimmunology. 2017 Mar 16;6(4):e1303586. doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2017.1303586. eCollection 2017.

Adoptive natural killer cell therapy is effective in reducing pulmonary metastasis of Ewing sarcoma.

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Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Angie Fowler AYA Cancer Institute, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Cleveland, OH, USA.


The survival of patients with metastatic or relapsed Ewing sarcoma (ES) remains dismal despite intensification of combination chemotherapy and radiotherapy, precipitating the need for novel alternative therapies with minimal side effects. Natural killer (NK) cells are promising additions to the field of cellular immunotherapy. Adoptive NK cell therapy has shown encouraging results in hematological malignancies. Despite these initial promising successes, however, NK cell therapy for solid tumors remains to be investigated using in vivo tumor models. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of ex vivo expanded human NK cells in controlling primary and metastatic ES tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Using membrane-bound IL-21 containing K562 (K562-mbIL-21) expansion platform, we were able to obtain sufficient numbers of expanded NK (eNK) cells that display favorable activation phenotypes and inflammatory cytokine secretion, along with a strong in vitro cytotoxic effect against ES. Furthermore, eNK therapy significantly decreased lung metastasis without any significant therapeutic effect in limiting primary tumor growth in an in vivo xenograft model. Our data demonstrate that eNK may be effective against pulmonary metastatic ES, but challenges remain to direct proper trafficking and augmenting the cytotoxic function of eNK to target primary tumor sites.


Ewing sarcoma; NK expansion; lung metastasis; natural killer cells

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