Generation of natural killer cells from hematopoietic stem cells in vitro for immunotherapy

Cell Mol Immunol. 2012 Jul;9(4):310-20. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2012.17. Epub 2012 Jun 18.


Natural killer (NK) cells are part of the innate immune system and are an alluring option for immunotherapy due to their ability to kill infected cells or cancer cells without prior sensitization. Throughout the past 20 years, different groups have been able to reproduce NK cell development in vitro, and NK cell ontogeny studies have provided the basis for the establishment of protocols to produce NK cells in vitro for immunotherapy. Here, we briefly discuss NK cell development and NK cell immunotherapy approaches. We review the factors needed for NK cell differentiation in vitro, which stem cell sources have been used, published protocols, challenges and future directions for Good Manufacturing Practice protocols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / methods*
  • Infections / immunology
  • Infections / therapy
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / transplantation*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Stem Cell Niche / immunology