Natural killer cells: the secret weapon in dendritic cell vaccination strategies

Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Mar 1;20(5):1095-103. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-2302.


In cancer therapy, dendritic cell (DC) vaccination is still being explored. Clinical responses, however, are diverse and there is a lack of immunologic readout systems that correspond with clinical outcome. Only in the minority of patients, T-cell responses correlate with clinical outcome, indicating that other immune cells also gain anticancer activity. We still have limited knowledge of the effect of DC vaccination on different immune effector cells. However, it has been shown that bidirectional cross-talk between natural killer (NK) cells and DCs is responsible for enhanced activation of both cell types and increases their antitumor activity. In this review, we postulate the possibility that NK cells are the secret weapons in DC vaccination and studying their behavior together with T-cell activation in vaccinated individuals might predict clinical outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cell Communication / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Cancer Vaccines