Research Papers: Immunology:

NK cell expression of natural cytotoxicity receptors may determine relapse risk in older AML patients undergoing immunotherapy for remission maintenance

Anna Martner _, Anna Rydström, Rebecca E. Riise, Johan Aurelius, Mats Brune, Robin Foà, Kristoffer Hellstrand and Fredrik B. Thorén

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:42569-42574. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5559

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Anna Martner1, Anna Rydström1, Rebecca E. Riise1, Johan Aurelius1,2, Mats Brune2, Robin Foà3, Kristoffer Hellstrand1, Fredrik B. Thorén1

1TIMM Laboratory, Sahlgrenska Cancer Center, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30, Sweden

2Department of Hematology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg 413 45, Sweden

3Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome 00161, Italy

Correspondence to:

Anna Martner, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: acute myeloid leukemia, immunotherapy, natural killer cells, NKp30, NKp46

Received: August 05, 2015     Accepted: September 08, 2015     Published: October 30, 2015


In a phase IV trial, eighty-four patients (age 18–79) with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in first complete remission (CR) received cycles of immunotherapy with histamine dihydrochloride (HDC) and low-dose human recombinant interleukin-2 (IL-2) to prevent relapse in the post-consolidation phase. Aspects of natural killer (NK) cell biology were analyzed before and during immunotherapy with focus on outcome in older patients. In younger (<60 years old, n = 37) and older patients (>60 years old, n = 47), treatment with HDC/IL-2 resulted in an expansion of CD56bright and CD16+ NK cells in blood along with an increased NK cell expression of the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCR) NKp30 and NKp46. In older patients, a high expression of NKp30 or NKp46 on CD16+ NK cells before and during therapy predicted leukemia-free and overall survival. These results suggest that NK cell functions determine relapse risk and survival in older AML patients and point to biomarkers of efficacy in protocols for remission maintenance.

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