Prospects for NK Cell Therapy of Sarcoma

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Dec 11;12(12):3719. doi: 10.3390/cancers12123719.


Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells with potent antitumor activity. One of the most NK cell cytotoxicity-sensitive tumor types is sarcoma, an aggressive mesenchyme-derived neoplasm. While a combination of radical surgery and radio- and chemotherapy can successfully control local disease, patients with advanced sarcomas remain refractory to current treatment regimens, calling for novel therapeutic strategies. There is accumulating evidence for NK cell-mediated immunosurveillance of sarcoma cells during all stages of the disease, highlighting the potential of using NK cells as a therapeutic tool. However, sarcomas display multiple immunoevasion mechanisms that can suppress NK cell function leading to an uncontrolled tumor outgrowth. Here, we review the current evidence for NK cells' role in immune surveillance of sarcoma during disease initiation, promotion, progression, and metastasis, as well as the molecular mechanisms behind sarcoma-mediated NK cell suppression. Further, we apply this basic understanding of NK-sarcoma crosstalk in order to identify and summarize the most promising candidates for NK cell-based sarcoma immunotherapy.

Keywords: Natural Killer (NK) cells; adoptive cell therapy; cancer; cell-mediated cytotoxicity; chimeric antigen receptor (CAR); immunotherapy; sarcoma; solid tumors; tumor microenvironment (TME).

Publication types

  • Review