Simple SummaryPrimary liver cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The present study shows that the cytokine IL-15 and a humanized antibody specific for a ligand recognized by a major activating receptor (NKG2D) expressed by a subset of lymphocytes named natural killer (NK) cells can restore dysfunctional NK cell responses in patients affected by the most common liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma. This study emphasizes the importance of NK cells for immune responses to hepatocellular carcinoma and identifies the NKG2D activating receptor/ligand axis as a possible target for immunotherapeutic interventions. More importantly, building upon previously published studies, these findings provide a basis for the future treatment of tumors unresponsive to current therapies.Natural killer (NK) cells play a pivotal role in cancer immune surveillance, and activating the receptor/ligand interaction may contribute to control the development and evolution of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the role of the natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) activating receptor and its ligand, the major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related protein A and B (MICA/B) in patients with cirrhosis and HCC subjected to surgical resection, patients with cirrhosis and no HCC, and healthy donors (HD). The NKG2D-mediated function was determined in peripheral blood (PB), in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (NK-TIL), and in matched surrounding liver tissue (NK-LIL). A group of patients treated with sorafenib because of clinically advanced HCC was also studied. A humanized anti-MICA/B monoclonal antibody (mAb) was used in in vitro experiments to examine NK cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Serum concentrations of soluble MICA/B were evaluated by ELISA. IL-15 stimulation increased NKG2D-dependent activity which, however, remained dysfunctional in PB NK cells from HCC patients, in line with the reduced NKG2D expression on NK cells. NK-TIL showed a lower degranulation ability than NK-LIL, which was restored by IL-15 stimulation. Moreover, in vitro IL-15 stimulation enhanced degranulation and interferon-gamma production by PB NK from patients at month one of treatment with sorafenib. Anti-MICA/B mAb associated with IL-15 was able to induce PB NK cytotoxicity for primary HCC cells in HD and patients with HCC, who also showed NK-TIL degranulation for autologous primary HCC cells. Our findings highlight the key role of the NKG2D-MICA/B axis in the regulation of NK cell responses in HCC and provide evidence in support of a potentially important role of anti-MICA/B mAb and IL-15 stimulation in HCC immunotherapy.

An Anti-MICA/B Antibody and IL-15 Rescue Altered NKG2D-Dependent NK Cell Responses in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Donadon, Matteo;Torzilli, Guido;
2020

Abstract

Simple SummaryPrimary liver cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The present study shows that the cytokine IL-15 and a humanized antibody specific for a ligand recognized by a major activating receptor (NKG2D) expressed by a subset of lymphocytes named natural killer (NK) cells can restore dysfunctional NK cell responses in patients affected by the most common liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma. This study emphasizes the importance of NK cells for immune responses to hepatocellular carcinoma and identifies the NKG2D activating receptor/ligand axis as a possible target for immunotherapeutic interventions. More importantly, building upon previously published studies, these findings provide a basis for the future treatment of tumors unresponsive to current therapies.Natural killer (NK) cells play a pivotal role in cancer immune surveillance, and activating the receptor/ligand interaction may contribute to control the development and evolution of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the role of the natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) activating receptor and its ligand, the major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related protein A and B (MICA/B) in patients with cirrhosis and HCC subjected to surgical resection, patients with cirrhosis and no HCC, and healthy donors (HD). The NKG2D-mediated function was determined in peripheral blood (PB), in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (NK-TIL), and in matched surrounding liver tissue (NK-LIL). A group of patients treated with sorafenib because of clinically advanced HCC was also studied. A humanized anti-MICA/B monoclonal antibody (mAb) was used in in vitro experiments to examine NK cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Serum concentrations of soluble MICA/B were evaluated by ELISA. IL-15 stimulation increased NKG2D-dependent activity which, however, remained dysfunctional in PB NK cells from HCC patients, in line with the reduced NKG2D expression on NK cells. NK-TIL showed a lower degranulation ability than NK-LIL, which was restored by IL-15 stimulation. Moreover, in vitro IL-15 stimulation enhanced degranulation and interferon-gamma production by PB NK from patients at month one of treatment with sorafenib. Anti-MICA/B mAb associated with IL-15 was able to induce PB NK cytotoxicity for primary HCC cells in HD and patients with HCC, who also showed NK-TIL degranulation for autologous primary HCC cells. Our findings highlight the key role of the NKG2D-MICA/B axis in the regulation of NK cell responses in HCC and provide evidence in support of a potentially important role of anti-MICA/B mAb and IL-15 stimulation in HCC immunotherapy.
HCC
immunotherapy
innate immunity
natural killer cells
sorafenib
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11699/62681
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