Phenotypic characterization and anticancer capacity of CD8+ cytokine-induced killer cells after antigen-induced expansion

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Abstract

Cytokine-induced killer cells (CIK) have been used in clinic for adoptive immunotherapy in a variety of malignant tumors and have improved the prognosis of cancer patients. However, there are individual differences in the CIK cell preparations including the obvious differences in the ratio of effector CIK cells among different cancer patients. Infusion of such heterogeneous immune cell preparation is an important factor that would affect the therapeutic efficacy. We report here the enrichment and expansion of CD8+ cells from CIK cells cultured for one week using magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS). These enriched CD8+ CIK cells expressed T cell marker CD3 and antigen recognition receptor NKG2D. Phenotypic analysis showed that CD8+ CIK cells contained 32.4% of CD3+ CD56+ natural killer (NK)-like T cells, 23.6% of CD45RO+ CD28+, and 50.5% of CD45RA+ CD27+ memory T cells. In vitro cytotoxic activity assay demonstrated that the enriched CD8+ CIK cells had significant cytotoxic activity against K562 cells and five ovarian cancer cell lines. Intriguingly, CD8+ CIK cells had strong cytotoxic activity against OVCAR3 cells that has weak binding capability to NKG2D. Flow cytometry and quantitative RT-PCR analysis revealed that OVCAR3 cells expressed HLA-I and OCT4 and Sox2, suggesting that CD8+ CIK cells recognize surface antigen via specific T cell receptor and effectively kill the target cells. The results suggest that transplantation of such in vitro enriched and expanded OCT4-specific CD8+ CIK cells may improve the specific immune defense mechanism against cancer stem cells, providing a novel avenue of cancer stem cell targeted immunotherapy for clinical treatment of ovarian cancer.

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Liu, J., Wang, L., Wang, Y., Zhang, W., & Cao, Y. (2017). Phenotypic characterization and anticancer capacity of CD8+ cytokine-induced killer cells after antigen-induced expansion. PLoS ONE, 12(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175704

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