Optimization of In Vitro Expansion and Activation of Human Natural Killer Cells against Breast Cancer Cell Line

Regarding to the increase of cancer deaths in recent years and disability of common therapies to eradicate cancers, as well as expansion of Natural Killer (NK) cell therapy, it seems so vital to find new useful therapies against cancers. Breast cancer is the second main cause of cancer death among women. As it is impossible for a majority of patients to receive NK cell therapy, an attempt was made to establish a low-cost and efficient method for expanding and activating NK cells against breast cancer cell line (MCF7).


NK cells were isolated from Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) applying either MACS based NK cell enrichment kit or antibodies and complement as cytotoxic method. Then, the NK cells were cultured in Stem Cell Growth Medium (SCGM) with feeder layer (irradiated PBMCs) along with PHA or OKT3. IL-2, IL-15 and IL-21 were used to expand NK cells and finally their cytotoxic activity was investigated by flow cytometry.


Highly pure NK cells were obtained and no significant difference between the two isolation methods was found. Using IL-2 plus IL-15, the number of NK cells increased up to100 fold after 16 days. No significant effect was observed after IL-21 treatment.


Our data indicated that cytotoxicity method can be considered a lowcost alternative for NK cell isolation kits. It seems that culturing NK cells for 14 days in either PHA or OKT3 supplemented SCGM medium would be more effective than culturing for 16 days in the presence of IL-21.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Avicenna Journal of Medical Biotechnology, Volume:12 Issue:1, 2020
17 - 23
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