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Cytokine-induced killer cells promote antitumor immunity

Jingting Jiang1*, Changping Wu1 and Binfeng Lu2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Tumor Biological treatment, the Third Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, 185 Juqian Street, Changzhou, 213003, China

2 Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 200 Lothrop Street E1047, Pittsburgh, PA, 15261, USA

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2013, 11:83  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-83

Published: 28 March 2013


The number of immune cells, especially dendritic cells and cytotoxic tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL), particularly Th1 cells, CD8 T cells, and NK cells is associated with increased survival of cancer patients. Such antitumor cellular immune responses can be greatly enhanced by adoptive transfer of activated type 1 lymphocytes. Recently, adoptive cell therapy based on infusion of ex vivo expanded TILs has achieved substantial clinical success. Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells are a heterogeneous population of effector CD8 T cells with diverse TCR specificities, possessing non-MHC-restricted cytolytic activities against tumor cells. Preclinical studies of CIK cells in murine tumor models demonstrate significant antitumor effects against a number of hematopoietic and solid tumors. Clinical studies have confirmed benefit and safety of CIK cell-based therapy for patients with comparable malignancies. Enhancing the potency and specificity of CIK therapy via immunological and genetic engineering approaches and identifying robust biomarkers of response will significantly improve this therapy.