Research Papers:

Negative regulation of tumor-infiltrating NK cell in clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients through the exosomal pathway

Yang Xia, Qiongfang Zhang, Quan Zhen, Yan Zhao, Nanjing Liu, Ting Li, Yanni Hao, Yao Zhang, Chunli Luo and Xiaohou Wu _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:37783-37795. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16354

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Yang Xia1, Qiongfang Zhang2, Quan Zhen1, Yan Zhao3, Nanjing Liu3, Ting Li3, Yanni Hao3, Yao Zhang1, Chunli Luo3 and Xiaohou Wu1

1Department of Urology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China

2Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Infectious Diseases (Ministry of Education), Institute for Viral Hepatitis, Department of Infectious Diseases, The Second Affiliated Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China

3Key Laboratory of Diagnostics Medicine designated by the Ministry of Education, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400016, China

Correspondence to:

Xiaohou Wu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: exosome, clear cell renal cell carcinoma, natural killer, transforming growth factor-β1, tumor immune evasion

Received: November 25, 2016     Accepted: February 15, 2017     Published: March 18, 2017


Natural killer cells are the key components in tumor immunity and defects in function are necessary for tumor immune escape. Emerging studies on tumor cell-derived exosomes have shown the biological significance in tumor microenvironment, but the underlying role of exosomes in regulating natural killer cells functions in clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients remains unknown. Firstly, we precisely characterized the phenotype and function of natural killer cells in clear cell renal cell carcinoma patients vs healthy controls. With an inhibitory phenotype, tumor-infiltrating natural killer cells exhibited poor cytotoxic capacity and deficient potential to produce cytokines compared with natural killer cells from tumor margin tissue and non-tumor tissue. Next, we revealed that primary tumor cells trigged natural killer cell dysfunction in an exosome-dependent manner. Interestingly, exosomes from primary tumor cells were preferentially enriched with TGF-β1 which acted as important mediator of natural killer cell functional deficiency. In vitro culture of exosomes induced natural killer cell dysfunction mediated by activation of the TGF-β/SMAD signaling pathway, and abrogated by knockdown TGF-β. Our data indicate that exosomes from clear cell renal cell carcinoma induce natural killer cells dysfunction by regulating the TGF-β/SMAD pathway to evade innate immune surveillance.

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