Identification of Anti-tumor Cells Carrying Natural Killer (NK) Cell Antigens in Patients With Hematological Cancers.
ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells, a cytotoxic lymphocyte lineage, are able to kill tumor cells in vitro and in mouse models. However, whether these cells display an anti-tumor activity in cancer patients has not been demonstrated. Here we have addressed this issue in patients with several hematological cancers. We found a population of highly activated CD56(dim)CD16(+) NK cells that have recently degranulated, evidence of killing activity, and it is absent in healthy donors. A high percentage of these cells expressed natural killer cell p46-related protein (NKp46), natural-killer group 2, member D (NKG2D) and killer inhibitory receptors (KIRs) and a low percentage expressed NKG2A and CD94. They are also characterized by a high metabolic activity and active proliferation. Notably, we found that activated NK cells from hematological cancer patients have non-NK tumor cell antigens on their surface, evidence of trogocytosis during tumor cell killing. Finally, we found that these activated NK cells are distinguished by their CD45RA(+)RO(+) phenotype, as opposed to non-activated cells in patients or in healthy donors displaying a CD45RA(+)RO(-) phenotype similar to naïve T cells. In summary, we show that CD45RA(+)RO(+) cells, which resemble a unique NK population, have recognized tumor cells and degranulate in patients with hematological neoplasias.
Project description:The leucocyte-specific phosphatase CD45 is present in two main isoforms: the large CD45RA and the short CD45RO. We have recently shown that distinctive expression of these isoforms distinguishes natural killer (NK) populations. For example, co-expression of both isoforms identifies in vivo the anti tumor NK cells in hematological cancer patients. Here we show that low CD45 expression associates with less mature, CD56bright, NK cells. Most NK cells in healthy human donors are CD45RA+CD45RO-. The CD45RA-RO+ phenotype, CD45RO cells, is extremely uncommon in B or NK cells, in contrast to T cells. However, healthy donors possess CD45RAdimRO- (CD45RAdim cells), which show immature markers and are largely expanded in hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients. Blood borne cancer patients also have more CD45RAdim cells that carry several features of immature NK cells. However, and in opposition to their association to NK cell progenitors, they do not proliferate and show low expression of the transferrin receptor protein 1/CD71, suggesting low metabolic activity. Moreover, CD45RAdim cells properly respond to in vitro encounter with target cells by degranulating or gaining CD69 expression. In summary, they are quiescent NK cells, with low metabolic status that can, however, respond after encounter with target cells.
Project description:Recent cancer treatment modalities have been intensively focused on immunotherapy. The success of chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy for treatment of refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia has pushed forward research on hematological malignancies. Among the effector types of innate lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells show great importance in immune surveillance against infectious and tumor diseases. Particularly, the role of NK cells has been argued in either elimination of target tumor cells or escape of tumor cells from immune surveillance. Therefore, an NK cell activation approach has been explored. Recent findings demonstrate that invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells capable of producing IFN-? when optimally activated can promptly trigger NK cells. Here, we review the role of NKT and/or NK cells and their interaction in anti-tumor responses by highlighting how innate immune cells recognize tumors, exert effector functions, and amplify adaptive immune responses. In addition, we discuss these innate lymphocytes in hematological disorders, particularly multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia. The immune balance at different stages of both diseases is explored in light of disease progression. Various types of innate immunity-mediated therapeutic approaches, recent advances in clinical immunotherapies, and iNKT-mediated cancer immunotherapy as next-generation immunotherapy are then discussed.
Project description:The transcription factors and proto-oncogenes STAT3 and STAT5 are highly activated in hematological malignancies and represent promising therapeutic targets. Whereas the importance of STAT5 as tumor promoter is beyond doubt, the role of STAT3 in hematological cancers is less well understood. Both, enforced as well as attenuated expression of STAT3 were reported in hematopoietic malignancies. Recent evidence implicates STAT3 as key player for tumor immune surveillance as it both mediates the production of and response to inflammatory cytokines. Here we investigated the effects of STAT3 deletion in a BCR/ABL-induced lymphoma model, which is tightly controlled by natural killer (NK) cells in vivo. Upon STAT3 deletion tumor growth is significantly enhanced when compared to STAT3-expressing controls. The increased tumor size upon loss of STAT3 was accompanied by reduced NK cell infiltration and decreased levels of the cytokine IFN-? and the chemokine RANTES. Upon transplantation into NK cell-deficient mice differences in lymphoma size were abolished indicating that STAT3 expression in the tumor cells controls NK cell-dependent tumor surveillance. Our findings indicate that STAT3 inhibition in lymphoma patients will impair NK cell-mediated tumor surveillance, which needs to be taken into account when testing STAT3 inhibitors in preclinical or clinical trials.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells represent one of the first lines of defense against malignant cells. NK cell activation and recognition are regulated by a balance between activating and inhibitory receptors, whose specific ligands can be upregulated on tumor cells surface and tumor microenvironment (TME). Hematological malignancies set up an extensive network of suppressive factors with the purpose to induce NK cell dysfunction and impaired immune-surveillance ability. Over the years, several strategies have been developed to enhance NK cells-mediated anti-tumor killing, while other approaches have arisen to restore the NK cell recognition impaired by tumor cells and other cellular components of the TME. In this review, we summarize and discuss the strategies applied in hematological malignanciesto block the immune check-points and trigger NK cells anti-tumor effects through engineered chimeric antigen receptors.
Project description:The ability of Natural Killer (NK) cells to kill tumor targets has been extensively studied in various hematological malignancies. However, NK cell therapy directed against solid tumors is still in early development. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) targeted therapies using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as cetuximab and panitumumab are widely used for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Still, the clinical efficacy of this treatment is hampered by mutations in RAS gene, allowing tumors to escape from anti-EGFR mAb therapy. It is well established that NK cells kill tumor cells by natural cytotoxicity and can in addition be activated upon binding of IgG1 mAbs through Fc receptors (CD16/Fc?RIIIa) on their surface, thereby mediating antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). In the current study, activated Peripheral Blood NK cells (PBNK) were combined with anti-EGFR mAbs to study their effect on the killing of EGFR+/- cancer cell lines, including those with RAS mutations. In vitro cytotoxicity experiments using colon cancer primary tumors and cell lines COLO320, Caco-2, SW620, SW480 and HT-29, demonstrated that PBNK cells are cytotoxic for a range of tumor cells, regardless of EGFR, RAS or BRAF status and at low E:T ratios. Cetuximab enhanced the cytotoxic activity of NK cells on EGFR+ tumor cells (either RASwt, RASmut or BRAFmut) in a CD16 dependent manner, whereas it could not increase the killing of EGFR- COLO320. Our study provides a rationale to strengthen NK cell immunotherapy through a combination with cetuximab for RAS and BRAF mutant mCRC patients.
Project description:In the present work, we investigated the role of natural killer (NK) cells in combination therapy with oncolytic virus (OV) and bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor. NK cells display rapid and potent immunity to metastatic and hematological cancers, and they overcome immunosuppressive effects of tumor microenvironment. We developed a mathematical model to address the question of how the density of NK cells affects the growth of the tumor. We found that the antitumor efficacy increases when the endogenous NKs are depleted and also when exogenous NK cells are injected into the tumor. These predictions were validated by our in vivo and in vitro experiments.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells belong to innate immunity and exhibit cytolytic activity against infectious pathogens and tumor cells. NK-cell function is finely tuned by receptors that transduce inhibitory or activating signals, such as killer immunoglobulin-like receptors, NK Group 2 member D (NKG2D), NKG2A/CD94, NKp46, and others, and recognize both foreign and self-antigens expressed by NK-susceptible targets. Recent insights into NK-cell developmental intermediates have translated into a more accurate definition of culture conditions for the in vitro generation and propagation of human NK cells. In this respect, interleukin (IL)-15 and IL-21 are instrumental in driving NK-cell differentiation and maturation, and hold great promise for the design of optimal NK-cell culture protocols. Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells possess phenotypic and functional hallmarks of both T cells and NK cells. Similar to T cells, they express CD3 and are expandable in culture, while not requiring functional priming for in vivo activity, like NK cells. CIK cells may offer some advantages over other cell therapy products, including ease of in vitro propagation and no need for exogenous administration of IL-2 for in vivo priming. NK cells and CIK cells can be expanded using a variety of clinical-grade approaches, before their infusion into patients with cancer. Herein, we discuss GMP-compliant strategies to isolate and expand human NK and CIK cells for immunotherapy purposes, focusing on clinical trials of adoptive transfer to patients with hematological malignancies.
Project description:Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is frequently overexpressed in tumor cells. An unusual cell surface localization could be demonstrated on a large variety of solid tumors including lung, colorectal, breast, squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, prostate and pancreatic carcinomas, glioblastomas, sarcomas and hematological malignancies, but not on corresponding normal tissues. A membrane (m)Hsp70-positive phenotype can be determined either directly on single cell suspensions of tumor biopsies by flow cytometry using cmHsp70.1 monoclonal antibody or indirectly in the serum of patients using a novel lipHsp70 ELISA. A mHsp70-positive tumor phenotype has been associated with highly aggressive tumors, causing invasion and metastases and resistance to cell death. However, natural killer (NK), but not T cells were found to kill mHsp70-positive tumor cells after activation with a naturally occurring Hsp70 peptide (TKD) plus low dose IL-2 (TKD/IL-2). Safety and tolerability of ex vivo TKD/IL-2 stimulated, autologous NK cells has been demonstrated in patients with metastasized colorectal and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a phase I clinical trial. Based on promising clinical results of the previous study, a phase II randomized clinical study was initiated in 2014. The primary objective of this multicenter proof-of-concept trial is to examine whether an adjuvant treatment of NSCLC patients after platinum-based radiochemotherapy (RCTx) with TKD/IL-2 activated, autologous NK cells is clinically effective. As a mHsp70-positive tumor phenotype is associated with poor clinical outcome only mHsp70-positive tumor patients will be recruited into the trial. The primary endpoint of this study will be the comparison of the progression-free survival of patients treated with ex vivo activated NK cells compared to patients who were treated with RCTx alone. As secondary endpoints overall survival, toxicity, quality-of-life, and biological responses will be determined in both study groups.
Project description:Different sensitizations and immune responses are thought to be induced in response to antigens at different mucosal sites between the oral floor and nose. The aim of this study was to investigate differences in the distributions of lymphocyte subsets in the submandibular (SM) and upper jugular (UJ) lymph nodes (LNs), which are supposed to be regional LNs of the oral floor and nasal mucosa, respectively. SMLNs and UJLNs were collected from patients with head and neck tumors who underwent surgical resection. The populations of T cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells, Natural Killer T (NKT) cells, regulatory T cells (Tregs) and dendritic cells (DCs) in LNs without metastasis were analyzed by flow cytometry. The high-affinity IgE receptor (Fc?RI) expression of LN cells were also evaluated.The proportions of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs, CD4+CD45RA-Foxp3high effector Tregs and Fc?RI?+CD33+CD11c+ DCs were significantly larger in SMLNs compared with UJLNs, while those of CD3+ T cells, CD3-CD56+ NK cells, CD3+V?24+V?11+ NKT cells, and CD123+CD303+ DCs did not show any significant differences between SMLNs and UJLNs. The differential distributions of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs were observed regardless of tumor region, LN metastasis and clinical staging. These data indicate that SMLNs may have immunosuppressive properties compared with UJLNs.
Project description:Natural Killer (NK) cells are unique immune cells capable of efficient killing of infected and transformed cells. Indeed, NK cell-based therapies induced response against hematological malignancies in the absence of adverse toxicity in clinical trials. Nevertheless, adoptive NK cell therapies are reported to have exhibited poor outcome against many solid tumors. This can be mainly attributed to limited infiltration of NK cells into solid tumors, downregulation of target antigens on the tumor cells, or suppression by the chemokines and secreted factors present within the tumor microenvironment. Several methods for genetic engineering of NK cells were established and consistently improved over the last decade, leading to the generation of novel NK cell products with enhanced anti-tumor activity and improved tumor homing. New generations of engineered NK cells are developed to better target refractory tumors and/or to overcome inhibitory tumor microenvironment. This review summarizes recent improvements in approaches to NK cell genetic engineering and strategies implemented to enhance NK cell effector functions.