The immunosurveillance mechanisms governing high-risk neuroblastoma (HR-NB), a major pediatric malignancy, have been elusive. We identify a potential role for natural killer (NK) cells, in particular the interaction between the NK receptor NKp30 and its ligand, B7-H6, in the metastatic progression and survival of HR-NB after myeloablative multimodal chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation. NB cells expressing the NKp30 ligand B7-H6 stimulated NK cells in an NKp30-dependent manner. Serum concentration of soluble B7-H6 correlated with the down-regulation of NKp30, bone marrow metastases, and chemoresistance, and soluble B7-H6 contained in the serum of HR-NB patients inhibited NK cell functions in vitro. The expression of distinct NKp30 isoforms affecting the polarization of NK cell functions correlated with 10-year event-free survival in three independent cohorts of HR-NB in remission from metastases after induction chemotherapy (n = 196, P <0.001), adding prognostic value to known risk factors such as N-Myc amplification and age >18 months. We conclude that the interaction between NKp30 and B7-H6 may contribute to the fate of NB patients and that both the expression of NKp30 isoforms on circulating NK cells and the concentration of soluble B7-H6 in the serum may be clinically useful as biomarkers for risk stratification.
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