Adoptive immunotherapy using natural killer (NK) cells has been a promising treatment for intractable malignancies; however, there remain a number of difficulties with respect to the shortage and limited anticancer potency of the effector cells. We here established a simple feeder-free method to generate purified (>90%) and highly activated NK cells from human peripheral blood-derived mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Among the several parameters, we found that CD3 depletion, high-dose interleukin (IL)-2, and use of a specific culture medium were sufficient to obtain highly purified, expanded (∼200-fold) and activated CD3-/CD56+ NK cells from PBMCs, which we designated zenithal-NK (Z-NK) cells. Almost all Z-NK cells expressed the lymphocyte-activated marker CD69 and showed dramatically high expression of activation receptors (i.e., NKG2D), interferon-γ, perforin, and granzyme B. Importantly, only 2 hours of reaction at an effector/target ratio of 1:1 was sufficient to kill almost all K562 cells, and the antitumor activity was also replicated in tumor-bearing mice in vivo. Cytolysis was specific for various tumor cells, but not for normal cells, irrespective of MHC class I expression. These findings strongly indicate that Z-NK cells are purified, expanded, and near-fully activated human NK cells and warrant further investigation in a clinical setting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology