Cytokine-Induced (CIK) cells represent an attractive approach for cell-based immunotherapy, as they show several advantages compared with other strategies. Here we describe an original serum-free protocol for CIK cell expansion that employs G-Rex devices and compare the resulting growth, viability, phenotypic profile and cytotoxic activity with conventional culture in tissue flasks. CIK cells were obtained from buffy coats, seeded in parallel in G-Rex and tissue flasks, and stimulated with clinical-grade IFN-γ, anti-CD3 antibody and IL-2. G-Rex led to large numbers of CIK cells, with a minimal need for technical interventions, thus reducing the time and costs of culture manipulation. CIK cells generated in G-Rex showed a less differentiated phenotype, with a significantly higher expression of naive-associated markers such as CD62L, CD45RA and CCR7, which correlates with a remarkable expansion potential in culture and could lead to longer persistence and a more sustained anti-tumor response in vivo. The described procedure can be easily translated to large-scale production under Good Manufacturing Practice. Overall, this protocol has strong advantages over existing procedures, as it allows easier, time-saving and cost-effective production of CIK effector cells, fostering their clinical application.
Keywords: Adoptive cell therapy; Cytokine-Induced Killer cells; Immunotherapy; Serum-free; ex vivo expansion.
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