Cellular immunotherapy of malignancies using the clonal natural killer cell line NK-92

J Hematother Stem Cell Res. 2001 Aug;10(4):535-44. doi: 10.1089/15258160152509145.


For years activated natural killer (A-NK) cells have been explored with respect to their efficacy in anticancer therapy, but, except for some anectdotal reports, no clear clinical benefit has been shown. However, as the understanding about the interactions of NK cells and tumor cells advances, the use of A-NK cells might be revisited with more sophisticated approaches that pay tribute to mechanisms which allow tumor cells to escape immune surveillance. Here the highly cytotoxic NK cell line NK-92 seems to be an attractive alternative for use in adoptive immunotherapy, because it was shown to exhibit substantial antitumor activity against a wide range of malignancies in vitro as well as in xenografted SCID mice. NK-92 cells are characterized by an almost complete lack of killer cell immunglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) yet conserved ability to perforin and granzyme B-mediated cytolytic activity, which make them unique among the few established NK and T cell-like cell lines. NK-92 is the only natural killer cell line that has entered clinical trials. Here we discuss the current status of development of this cell line for adoptive immunotherapy (AIT) of malignancies and review our first clinical experience in patients with advanced cancer who have received repeated transfusions of irradiated NK-92 in a phase I/II trial. Also we discuss issues that address safety aspects of immunotherapy with clonal cell lines and describe further manipulations, which hold the potential of significantly improving the clinical outcome of AIT with NK-92.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Line / cytology
  • Cell Line / immunology*
  • Cell Line / transplantation
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / transplantation
  • Neoplasms / therapy*