Effect of Human Natural Killer and γδ T Cells on the Growth of Human Autologous Melanoma Xenografts in SCID Mice

Francesco Lozupone, Daniela Pende, Vito Lelio Burgio, Chiara Castelli, Massimo Spada, Massimo Venditti, Francesca Luciani, Luana Lugini, Cristina Federici, Carlo Ramoni, Licia Rivoltini, Giorgio Parmiani, Filippo Belardelli, Paola Rivera, Stefania Marcenaro, Lorenzo Moretta, Stefano Fais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Natural killer (NK) cells were first identified for their ability to kill tumor cells of different origin in vitro. Similarly, γδ T lymphocytes display strong cytotoxic activity against various tumor cell lines. However, the ability of both the NK and γδ cells to mediate natural immune response against human malignant tumors in vivo is still poorly defined. Severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice have been successfully engrafted with human tumors. In this study, the antitumor effect of local as well as of systemic treatments based on NK cells or Vδ1 or Vδ2 γ/δ T lymphocytes against autologous melanoma cells was investigated in vivo. The results show that all three of the populations were effective in preventing growth of autologous human melanomas when both tumor and lymphoid cells were s.c. inoculated at the same site. However, when lymphoid cells were infused i.v., only NK cells and Vδ1 γ/δ T lymphocytes could either prevent or inhibit the s.c. growth of autologous melanoma. Accordingly, both NK cells and Vδ1 γδ T lymphocytes could be detected at the s.c. tumor site. In contrast, Vδ2 γδ T lymphocytes were only detectable in the spleen of the SCID mice. Moreover, NK cells maintained their inhibitory effect on tumor growth even after discontinuation of the treatment. Indeed they were present at the tumor site for a longer period. These data support the possibility to exploit NK cells and Vδ1 γδ T lymphocytes in tumor immunotherapy. Moreover, our study emphasizes the usefulness of human tumor/SCID mouse models for preclinical evaluation of immunotherapy protocols against human tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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