In a phase IV trial, 84 patients (age 18-79) with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in first complete remission (CR) received cycles of immunotherapy with histamine dihydrochloride (HDC) and low-dose human recombinant interleukin 2 (IL-2) for 18 months to prevent leukemic relapse. During cycles, the treatment resulted in expansion of CD56(bright) (CD3(-)/16(-)/56(bright)) and CD16(+) (CD3(-)/16(+)/56(+)) natural killer (NK) cells in the blood along with increased NK cell expression of the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) NKp30 and NKp46. Multivariate analyses correcting for age and risk group demonstrated that high CD56(bright) NK cell counts and high expression of NKp30 or NKp46 on CD16(+) NK cells independently predicted leukemia-free survival (LFS) and overall survival (OS). Our results suggest that the dynamics of NK cell subsets and their NCR expression may determine the efficiency of relapse-preventive immunotherapy in AML.
Keywords: acute myeloid leukemia; immunotherapy; natural cytotoxicity receptors; natural killer cells.