ADCC employing an NK cell line (haNK) expressing the high affinity CD16 allele with avelumab, an anti-PD-L1 antibody

Int J Cancer. 2017 Aug 1;141(3):583-593. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30767. Epub 2017 May 19.


NK-92 cells, and their derivative, designated aNK, were obtained from a patient with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Prior clinical studies employing adoptively transferred irradiated aNK cells have provided evidence of clinical benefit and an acceptable safety profile. aNK cells have now been engineered to express IL-2 and the high affinity (ha) CD16 allele (designated haNK). Avelumab is a human IgG1 anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, which has shown evidence of clinical activity in a range of human tumors. Prior in vitro studies have shown that avelumab has the ability to mediate antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) of human tumor cells when combined with NK cells. In the studies reported here, the ability of avelumab to enhance the lysis of a range of human carcinoma cells by irradiated haNK cells via the ADCC mechanism is demonstrated; this ADCC is shown to be inhibited by anti-CD16 blocking antibody and by concanamycin A, indicating the use of the granzyme/perforin pathway in tumor cell lysis. Studies also show that while NK cells have the ability to lyse aNK or haNK cells, the addition of NK cells to irradiated haNK cells does not inhibit haNK-mediated lysis of human tumor cells, with or without the addition of avelumab. Avelumab-mediated lysis of tumor cells by irradiated haNK cells is also shown to be similar to that of NK cells bearing the V/V Fc receptor high affinity allele. These studies thus provide the rationale for the clinical evaluation of the combined use of avelumab with that of irradiated adoptively transferred haNK cells.

Keywords: ADCC; NK-92 cells; anti-PD-L1; avelumab; haNK cells.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / immunology*
  • Apoptosis
  • B7-H1 Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / genetics
  • GPI-Linked Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, IgG / genetics
  • Receptors, IgG / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • FCGR3B protein, human
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukin-2
  • Receptors, IgG
  • avelumab