Natural killer (NK) cells are useful for cancer immunotherapy and have proven clinically effective against hematologic malignancies. However, immunotherapies for poor prognosis solid malignancies, including ovarian cancer, have not been as successful due to immunosuppression by solid tumors. Although rearming patients' own NK cells to treat cancer is an attractive option, success of that strategy is limited by the impaired function of NK cells from cancer patients and by inhibition by self-MHC. In this study, we show that expansion converts healthy donor and immunosuppressed ovarian cancer patient NK cells to a cytotoxic CD56superbrightCD16+ subset with activation state and antitumor functions that increase with CD56 brightness. We investigated whether these expanded NK cells may overcome the limitations of autologous NK cell therapy against solid tumors. Peripheral blood- and ascites-derived NK cells from ovarian cancer patients were expanded and then adoptively transferred into cell-line and autologous patient-derived xenograft models of human ovarian cancer. Expanded ovarian cancer patient NK cells reduced the burden of established tumors and prolonged survival. These results suggest that CD56bright NK cells harbor superior antitumor function compared with CD56dim cells. Thus, NK cell expansion may overcome limitations on autologous NK cell therapy by converting the patient's NK cells to a cytotoxic subset that exerts a therapeutic effect against autologous tumor. These findings suggest that the value of expanded autologous NK cell therapy for ovarian cancer and other solid malignancies should be clinically assessed. Cancer Immunol Res; 6(10); 1174-85. ©2018 AACR.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.