The cytotoxic activity of Natural Killer (NK) and Lymphokine Activated Killer (LAK) cells in neoplastic patients with or without antalgic treatment was studied. NK cell activity was found reduced in untreated neoplastic patients when compared to healthy subjects. The antalgic treatment with morphine (orally or intrathecally administered) was able to significantly reduce the mean values of NK cell activity found in cancer patients. In three patients the cytotoxicity of NK cells significantly decreased during transfer from oral to intrathecal administration of morphine. In contrast to the NK cell function, the development of LAK cell activity significantly increased in neoplastic patients when compared to healthy controls. Further increments were obtained during treatment with morphine. The oral treatment with morphine was able to determine a higher induction of LAK cells than the intrathecal administration of the drug. Besides providing new knowledge on the effect of morphine on immune system our findings suggest that, in order to include neoplastic patients in clinical trials of adoptive immunotherapy with LAK cells and interleukin-2 (IL-2), the antalgic therapy with oral administration of morphine may represent a better solution than the intrathecal administration of the drug.
- Lymphokine Activated Killer cells
- Natural Killer cells
- Neoplastic patients
ASJC Scopus subject areas