Assessing Canonical and Adaptive Natural Killer Cell Function in Suppression Assays In Vitro

  • Dhifaf SarhanEmail author
  • Jeffrey S. Miller
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1913)


The in vitro culture system outlined in this chapter allows for standardized protocols to examine canonical and adaptive natural killer (NK) cell responses while interacting with immune suppressor cells such as regulatory T cells (Treg) and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). These interactions pathologically occur during tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Strategies to study the effects of ex vivo purified immune suppressor cells from cancer patients on the function of NK cell antitumor activity will help to understand suppressive mechanisms to improve immunotherapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have recently demonstrated tremendous clinical responses in patients with diverse types of cancers. However, their effect on NK cell function is not very well studied. Here, we have adapted a coculture system that previously has been utilized to study regulatory T cells. This approach can further be utilized to study the effects of immune checkpoint inhibitors in vitro and ex vivo. We focus on the differences between canonical NK cells and the newly identified subset of NK cells termed “adaptive NK cells.” These cells are induced by cytomegalovirus (CMV) in CMV-seropositive individuals.

Key words

Human canonical and adaptive NK cells Immune suppression Treg MDSC 



This work was funded in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, CA111412, and CA65493.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology, Karolinska InstitutetKarolinska University HospitalStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation, Department of MedicineUniversity of Minnesota Masonic Cancer CenterMinneapolisUSA

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