Natural killer cell-based immunotherapy in cancer: current insights and future prospects

J Intern Med. 2009 Aug;266(2):154-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2009.02121.x.


As our understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing natural killer (NK) cell activity increases, their potential in cancer immunotherapy is growing increasingly prominent. This review analyses the currently available preclinical and clinical data regarding NK cell-based immunotherapeutic approaches in cancer starting from a historical background and an overview of molecular mechanisms taking part in NK cell responses. The status of NK cells in cancer patients, currently investigated clinical applications such as in vivo modulation of NK cell activity, ex vivo purification/expansion and adoptive transfer as well as future possibilities such as genetic modifications are discussed in detail.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transplantation*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2