Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells as feasible and effective adoptive immunotherapy for the treatment of solid tumors

Giulia Mesiano, Maja Todorovic, Loretta Gammaitoni, Valeria Leuci, Lidia Giraudo Diego, Fabrizio Carnevale-Schianca, Franca Fagioli, Wanda Piacibello, Massimo Aglietta, Dario Sangiolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells are heterogeneous ex vivo-expanded T lymphocytes with mixed T-NK phenotype and endowed with a wide MHC-unrestricted antitumor activity. CIK cells can be expanded from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) cultured with the timed addition of IFN-γ, Ab anti-CD3 and IL2. A consistent subset of mature CIK cells presents a CD3 +CD56+ phenotype. The CD3+CD56+ cellular subset is the main responsible for the tumor-killing activity, mostly mediated by the interaction of NKG2D receptor with MHC-unrestricted ligands (MIC A/B; ULBPs) on tumor cells. Areas covered: In the present work, we described the biologic characteristics of CIK cells, focusing on those aspects that may favor their clinical translation. We reviewed preclinical data and analyzed reports from clinical trials. A specific paragraph is dedicated to future research perspectives in the field. Expert opinion: CIK cells represent a realistic new option in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Crucial issues, favoring their clinical translation, are the easy availability of large amounts of expanded CIK cells and their MHC-unrestricted tumor killing, potentially effective against many tumor types. Intriguing future perspectives and open challenges are the investigation of synergisms with other immunotherapy approaches, targeted therapies or even conventional chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-684
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Opinion on Biological Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Adoptive cell therapy
  • CIK cells
  • Immunotherapy
  • Solid tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells as feasible and effective adoptive immunotherapy for the treatment of solid tumors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this