Helper role of NK cells during the induction of anticancer responses by dendritic cells

Pawel Kalinski, Adam Giermasz, Yutaro Nakamura, Per Basse, Walter J. Storkus, John M. Kirkwood, Robbie B. Mailliard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Recent reports demonstrate that natural killer (NK) cells and dendritic cells (DC) support each other's activity in a positive feedback. We observed that activated NK cells induce the maturation of DCs into stable type-1 polarized DCs (DC1), characterized by up to 100-fold enhanced ability to produce IL-12p70 in response to subsequent interaction with Th cells. DC1 induction depends on NK cell-produced IFN-γ and TNF-α, with a possible involvement of additional factors. DC1, induced by NK cells or by NK cell-related soluble factors, are stable, resistant to tumor-related suppressive factors, and show strongly enhanced ability to induce Th1 and CTL responses. In analogy to resting T cells, the induction of "helper" function of NK cells relies on a two-signal activation paradigm. While NKG2D-dependent tumor cell recognition is sufficient to induce the cytotoxic "effector" function of NK cells, the induction of "NK cell help" requires additional signals from type-1 IFNs, products of virally-infected cells, or from IL-2. Compared to non-polarized DCs currently-used in clinical trials, DC1s act as superior inducers of anti-cancer CTL responses during in vitro sensitization. The current data provides rationale for the clinical use of DC1s in cancer and chronic infections (such as HIV), as a new generation DC-based vaccines, uniquely combining fully mature DC status with an elevated, rather than "exhausted" ability to produce bioactive IL-12p70. We are currently implementing stage I/II clinical trials, testing the effectiveness of DC1s induced by NK cells or by NK cell-related factors, as therapeutic vaccines against melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-539
Number of pages5
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number4 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Clinical trials
  • CTL
  • Dendritic cells
  • Immunotherapy
  • NK cells
  • Th1
  • Vaccines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Helper role of NK cells during the induction of anticancer responses by dendritic cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this