Biology and clinical effects of natural killer cells in allogeneic transplantation

Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.
Current opinion in oncology (Impact Factor: 4.47). 12/2009; 22(2):130-7. DOI: 10.1097/CCO.0b013e328335a559
Source: PubMed


Following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, donor-derived natural killer (NK) cells target recipient hematopoietic cells, resulting in an antileukemia effect and a lower incidence of graft rejection. NK cells do not mediate and may diminish graft versus host disease. Here we review the determinants of NK cell alloreactivity and their implications for adoptive NK cell therapy.
NK cell alloreactivity has been defined by the absence of recipient MHC class I ligands for donor inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) receptors, as predicted by a number of algorithms. Recently, the role of activating NK receptors and their cognate ligands has received more attention. The beneficial clinical effect of NK-cell alloreactivity has not been uniformly demonstrated, likely reflecting differences in conditioning regimens, graft components and posttransplant immune suppression. Investigations of NK cell phenotype and function after transplantation have helped demonstrate which NK cell subsets mediate the graft versus leukemia effect. These advances have proceeded in parallel with increasing facility in GMP-grade bulk purification and administration of NK cell preparations.
NK cells are a heterogeneous population of lymphocytes with diverse patterns of target-cell recognition and effector function. Further clinical and functional correlations will help maximize their potential for clinical benefit.

Download full-text


Available from: Saar Gill, May 29, 2014
  • Source
    • "Although the exact mechanisms of GvL remain uncertain, the majority of interest has focussed on T-cell immune recognition of minor histocompatibility antigens . However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in the potential role of natural killer (NK) cell recognition of tumour tissue and this is now being assessed in cellular immunotherapy protocols (Benjamin et al, 2010). Many molecules within the immune repertoire exhibit genetic polymorphism as a result of selective pressures that have operated during evolution (Valiante et al, 1997). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: NKG2D (KLRK1) is an activating receptor on natural killer (NK) and T-cells and binds a diverse panel of polymorphic ligands encoded by the MIC and RAET1 gene families. We studied the clinical importance of retinoic acid early transcript-1 (RAET1) polymorphism in allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) by determining the frequency of 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and individual RAET1 alleles in 371 patient-donor pairs and relating this to clinical outcome. A strong association was observed between the presence of five SNPs within the patient RAET1L (ULBP6) gene and relapse-free survival and overall survival. Two common alleles of RAET1L were determined and the presence of the protective RAET1L*02 allele in the patient was associated with a relapse-free survival of 44% at 8 years compared with just 25% in patients who lacked a RAET1L*02 allele (P < 0·001). Overall survival at this time was 55% in those with RAET1L*02 allele compared to 39% in patients who lacked a RAET1L*02 allele (P = 0·003). These novel findings indicate a critical role for NKG2D-RAET1L interactions in determining SCT clinical outcome and show RAET1L may have an important influence on regulating the strength of the alloreactive immune response. The data will be of value in guiding the development of future transplant therapy protocols.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · British Journal of Haematology
  • Source
    • "However, certain studies have either found no beneficial effect of KIR ligand mismatch or reported even worse outcomes following partially HLA mismatched stem cell transplantation [21], [22]. Moreover, other studies have proposed protective roles for NK cell recognition of allogenic HLA using activating KIR [23], [24] or they suggested a role for uneducated NK cells [25], [26], [27] (for review see [28], [29]). Some of these discrepancies may be due to distinct conditioning regimens, differences in the preparation, the source and the dose of the transplanted stem cells and/or the fact that the cohorts included patients with distinct hematological malignancies that are based on different primary genetic lesions. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Natural Killer (NK) cells are thought to protect from residual leukemic cells in patients receiving stem cell transplantation. However, multiple retrospective analyses of patient data have yielded conflicting conclusions regarding a putative role of NK cells and the essential NK cell recognition events mediating a protective effect against leukemia. Further, a NK cell mediated protective effect against primary leukemia in vivo has not been shown directly. Here we addressed whether NK cells have the potential to control chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) arising based on the transplantation of BCR-ABL1 oncogene expressing primary bone marrow precursor cells into lethally irradiated recipient mice. These analyses identified missing-self recognition as the only NK cell-mediated recognition strategy, which is able to significantly protect from the development of CML disease in vivo. Our data provide a proof of principle that NK cells can control primary leukemic cells in vivo. Since the presence of NK cells reduced the abundance of leukemia propagating cancer stem cells, the data raise the possibility that NK cell recognition has the potential to cure CML, which may be difficult using small molecule BCR-ABL1 inhibitors. Finally, our findings validate approaches to treat leukemia using antibody-based blockade of self-specific inhibitory MHC class I receptors.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2011 · PLoS ONE
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: L’injection de cellules immunologiquement compétentes à un hôte histo-incompatible amène une réaction qui peut se traduire par la maladie du greffon-contre-l’hôte (GVHD). La GVHD demeure une barrière importante à une utilisation plus répandue de la greffe allogénique de cellules hématopoïétiques (AHCT), pourtant un traitement efficace pour traiter de nombreuses maladies. Une meilleure compréhension des mécanismes qui sous-tendent cette pathologie pourrait en faciliter le traitement et la prévention. L’Interféron-gamma (IFN-γ) et le Transforming Growth Factor-béta (TGF-β) sont deux cytokines maîtresses de l’immunité impliquées dans la fonction et l’homéostasie des cellules greffées. Nous démontrons chez la souris que l’IFN-γ limite la reconstitution lympho-hématopoïétique de façon dose-dépendante en mobilisant des mécanismes d’apoptose et en inhibant la prolifération cellulaire. Le TGF-β est quant à lui généralement connu comme un immunosuppresseur qui contrôle l’immunité en utilisant plusieurs voies de signalisation. Le rôle relatif de ces voies en AHCT est inconnu. Nous avons étudié une de ces voies en greffant des cellules provenant de donneurs déficients pour le gène SMAD3 (SMAD3-KO), un médiateur central de la voie canonique du TGF-β, à des souris histo-incompatibles. Bien que l’absence de SMAD3 ne cause aucune maladie chez nos souris donneuses, l’injection de cellules SMAD3-KO amène une GVHD du colon sévère chez le receveur. Cette atteinte est caractérisée par une différenciation Th1 et une infiltration massive de granulocytes témoignant d’un rôle central de SMAD3 dans la physiologie des lymphocytes T CD4 et des cellules myéloïdes. Nous avons focalisé ensuite nos efforts sur le rôle de SMAD3 chez les lymphocytes T CD4 en sachant que SMAD3 était actif chez les lymphocytes T CD4 tolérants. Nous avons découvert que SMAD3 était rapidement inactivé après une activation des cellules T, suggérant que l’inactivation de SMAD3 était fonctionnellement importante pour briser l’état de tolérance. Des études de micro-puces d’ADNc nous ont montré que SMAD3 contrôlait en effet l’expression de nombreux transcrits de gènes connus comme étant reliés à la tolérance et/ou à des processus biologiques dont les rôles dans le maintien de la tolérance sont plausibles. The injection of immuno-competent cells into a histo-incompatible host can result in the development of Graft-versus-Host disease (GVHD). GVHD is the most significant barrier to a more widespread use of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (AHCT), a potent treatment for several diseases. A better understanding of the pathophysiological underpinnings of GVHD would facilitate the design of rational approaches to treat and prevent this complication of AHCT. Gamma-interferon (IFN-γ) and Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGF-β) are master cytokines of immunity and have a role in the function and homeostasis of transplanted cells. Using a murine model, we show that IFN-γ curtails lympho-hamatopoitic reconstitution in a dose-dependent fashion by increasing apoptosis and by limiting donor cell proliferation. TGF-β is an immunosuppressive cytokine that controls immune cells through multiple signaling pathways. The relative contribution of these pathways in AHCT is unknown. We specifically studied the role of one of these pathways by transplanting SMAD3 deficient cells (SMAD3-KO) in histo-incompatible hosts. SMAD3 is a key mediator of the so-called canonical TGF-β signaling pathway. Although SMAD3-KO donor mice are healthy, the injection of SMAD3-KO cells leads to severe GVHD in the hosts, characterized by intestinal involvement associated with Th1 skewing and massive granulocyte infiltration. These findings hint at a crucial role for SMAD3 in CD4 T-cell and myeloid cell biology. We then focalized on the role of SMAD3 in CD4 T cells knowing that SMAD3 is active in tolerant, resting CD4 T cells. We found that SMAD3 was rapidly inactivated upon T cell activation, suggesting that SMAD3 inactivation was functionally important to break the state of tolerance. Our cDNA microarray experiments show that indeed, SMAD3 regulates the transcript levels of multiple genes known to be involved in T cell tolerance and in biological processes plausibly related to immune tolerance.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2010
Show more