Natural killer (NK) cells are immune cells that can be used as a form of immunotherapy and are particularly effective in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). NK cells can be obtained from peripheral or cord blood, but with low yields. This limits their use for patients that need multiple treatments. They also have a short survival time and do not proliferate or remain viable after injection into patients. The availability of NK cells for therapy can be enhanced by stimulating their production from hematopoietic (CD 34+) stem cells.
Using cells in vitro (cancer cell lines and patient cells) and live mice injected with AML cells, a research group conducted a study to compare proliferation, cytokine responses, and cytotoxicity between NK cells from peripheral blood, cord blood, and those derived from CD34+ stem cells. Cell damage, as a measure of cytotoxicity, was assessed by staining the cancer cells with a special dye, incubating with the NK cell types, then staining with another dye that discerns dead cells. To assess NK cell proliferation, the three types of NK cells were stimulated with IL-2 or IL-15 (cytokines that stimulate NK cell proliferation). Cell death and proliferation were assessed in the assays by cell sorting and counting using flow cytometry.
NK cells derived from CD34+ stem cells outperformed the other NK cell types in a number of ways. The CD34+ cells were able to respond well to cytokines and proliferate in vitro. The CD34+ stem cell−derived NK cells had longer telomere lengths (a measure of cell maturity), and their cytotoxic activity was as good as those from peripheral or cord blood.
In experimental mice, the NK cells derived from CD34+ stem cells were able to kill leukemia cells. When stimulated with a cytokine, these CD34+-derived NK cells were able to proliferate in the mice. These studies show that NK cells can be produced from CD 34+ stem cells in high numbers, and that these can proliferate and survive well after injection into living animals. This can provide a viable beneficial option for the use of CD 34+ stem cell-derived NK cells in the clinical arena.
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Domogala A, et al. "Natural Killer Cells Differentiated In Vitro From Cord Blood CD34+ Cells Are More Advantageous For Use As An Immunotherapy Than Peripheral Blood An... - Pubmed - NCBI". Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 May 2017.