8th Annual Symposium
Physics of Cancer
October 4-6, 2017
|PoC - Physics of Cancer - Annual Symposium|
Interactions of Natural Killer Cells with Cancer Cells in a 3-D Environment
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Natural killer (NK) cells are important effector cells in the immune response to cancer. Small clinical trials on adoptively transferred NK cells, however, have thus far failed to demonstrate antitumor responses. As NK cells need to pass a stringent evaluation before being transferred into a patient, the cells are cryopreserved and thawed again to bridge this evaluation time. Classic degranulation and chromium release assays where the NK cells are in direct contact with K562 tumor target cells show no significant decrease in the cytotoxic function of cryopreserved NK cells. However, when NK cells and target tumor cells are embedded in collagen gels, we find that 34% of freshly isolated NK cells are motile, compared to only 5% of cryopreserved cells. Of those motile cells, the killing efficiency is further reduced to 15% after cryopreservation. These findings explain the persistent failure of antitumor therapy with NK cells and highlight the crucial role of a 3D environment for testing NK cell function.