NK cell-based immunotherapy in cancer metastasis

Seila Lorenzo-Herrero, Alejandro López-Soto, Christian Sordo-Bahamonde, Ana P. Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Massimo Vitale, Segundo Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Metastasis represents the leading cause of cancer-related death mainly owing to the limited efficacy of current anticancer therapies on advanced malignancies. Although immunotherapy is rendering promising results in the treatment of cancer, many adverse events and factors hampering therapeutic efficacy, especially in solid tumors and metastases, still need to be solved. Moreover, immunotherapeutic strategies have mainly focused on modulating the activity of T cells, while Natural Killer (NK) cells have only recently been taken into consideration. NK cells represent an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy owing to their innate capacity to eliminate malignant tumors in a non-Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and non-tumor antigen-restricted manner. In this review, we analyze the mechanisms and efficacy of NK cells in the control of metastasis and we detail the immunosubversive strategies developed by metastatic cells to evade NK cell-mediated immunosurveillance. We also share current and cutting-edge clinical approaches aimed at unleashing the full anti-metastatic potential of NK cells, including the adoptive transfer of NK cells, boosting of NK cell activity, redirecting NK cell activity against metastatic cells and the release of evasion mechanisms dampening NK cell immunosurveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Adoptive transfer
  • Antibodies
  • Cancer
  • Checkpoint
  • Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)
  • Cytokines
  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)
  • Metastasis
  • Natural killer cell
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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