The prognostic value of natural killer cell infiltration in resected pulmonary adenocarcinoma

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001 Jun;121(6):1058-63. doi: 10.1067/mtc.2001.113026.


Objective: Natural cytotoxicity caused by mediated natural killer cells is believed to play an important role in host-cancer defense mechanisms. Immunohistochemically, we have detected natural killer cells in tissue specimens from patients with pulmonary adenocarcinoma and have assessed their clinical characteristics.

Methods: Using the monoclonal antibody for CD57 specific marker for natural killer cells, we quantified natural killer cell infiltration in 150 patients with pulmonary adenocarcinoma who underwent curative tumor resection to investigate the relationship between natural killer cell counts and clinicopathologic factors and prognosis.

Results: The natural killer cell count was significantly related to the regulation of tumor progression, involving T classification, N classification, and stage (P =.01 for T classification or stage; P =.02 for N classification). A significant difference in the rate of patient survival was detected between those patients whose tumors had either high or low natural killer cell counts in both the overall and stage I groups (P =.0002 for the overall group; P =.049 for the stage I group).

Conclusion: These data indicate that natural killer infiltration may contribute to the regulation of tumor progression and that the natural killer cell count can serve as a useful prognostic marker in overall and stage I pulmonary adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Culture Techniques
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor