Background: Natural cytotoxicity mediated by natural killer (NK) cells is believed to play an important role in host anticancer defense mechanisms. The aim of this study was to examine the prognostic significance of NK cell activity after hepatectomy in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Methods: The NK cell activity in 210 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma was measured and evaluated in relation to clinicopathologic variables using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: The NK cell activity was decreased significantly in hepatocellular carcinoma patients compared with the control groups (P < 0.001). No correlation was observed between NK cell activity and the clinicopathologic variables. Multivariate analyses indicated that NK cell activity as well as intrahepatic metastases, platelet count, and serum albumin level were independent prognostic factors.
Conclusions: This study suggests that the preoperative NK cell activity will help predict recurrence and prognosis after hepatectomy in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.