Ten-year update of the international registry on cytokine-induced killer cells in cancer immunotherapy

J Cell Physiol. 2020 Dec;235(12):9291-9303. doi: 10.1002/jcp.29827. Epub 2020 Jun 2.


Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells represent an exceptional T-cell population uniting a T cell and natural killer cell-like phenotype in their terminally differentiated CD3+ CD56+ subset, which features non-MHC-restricted tumor-killing activity. CIK cells have provided encouraging results in initial clinical studies and revealed synergistic antitumor effects when combined with standard therapeutic procedures. We established the international registry on CIK cells (IRCC) to collect and evaluate clinical trials for the treatment of cancer patients in 2010. Moreover, our registry set new standards on the reporting of results from clinical trials using CIK cells. In the present update, a total of 106 clinical trials including 10,225 patients were enrolled in IRCC, of which 4,889 patients in over 30 distinct tumor entities were treated with CIK cells alone or in combination with conventional or novel therapies. Significantly improved median progression-free survival and overall survival were shown in 27 trials, and 9 trials reported a significantly increased 5-year survival rate. Mild adverse effects and graft-versus-host diseases were also observed in the studies. Recently, more efforts have been put into the improvement of antitumoral efficacy by CIK cells including the administration of immune checkpoint inhibitors and modification with chimeric antigen receptorc. The minimal toxicity and multiple improvements on their tumor-killing activity both make CIK cells a favorable therapeutic tool in the clinical practice of cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: CIK cells; clinical trials; cytokine-induced killer cells; immunotherapy; international registry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells / immunology*
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / methods
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Cytokines