Natural killer-cell activity under conditions reflective of tumor micro-environment

Int J Cancer. 1991 Jul 30;48(6):895-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.2910480617.


Natural-killer(NK) activity was examined in the presence of low oxygen tension, low glucose concentration and acidic pH, to determine whether physical conditions present in the tumor micro-environment could play a role in down-regulating cytolytic activity of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes with NK phenotype. Anoxia (0% O2), but not hypoxia (1% O2), significantly reduced NK activity, as did acidic pH (6.4 or 6.7). Low glucose concentration (6 mg/dl) did not impair NK activity. Combinations of either moderate (1% O2, 26 mg/dl glucose, pH 6.7) or extreme (0% O2, 6 mg/dl glucose, pH 6.4) alteration of physical conditions significantly reduced NK activity. This study indicates that the physico-chemical conditions present within solid tumors are capable of down-regulating NK activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Hypoxia
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Kinetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Poly I-C / pharmacology


  • Culture Media
  • Glucose
  • Poly I-C