Lab Med Online.  2018 Apr;8(2):41-51. 10.3343/lmo.2018.8.2.41.

Variable Natural Killer Cell Activity in Hematological Malignancies at Diagnosis

  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Ewha Womans University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Ewha Womans University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Laboratory Medicine, Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital, Goyang, Korea.


Natural killer (NK) cells play a key role in innate immune responses and are an important component of anti-cancer defenses. This study aimed to investigate the clinicopathological characteristics of NK cell activity (NKA) among various hematological malignancies at diagnosis and to evaluate their clinical value as a monitoring marker.
A total of 111 patients that were newly diagnosed with hematological malignancies were recruited, comprising 18 acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 31 multiple myeloma (MM), and 62 lymphoma. Twenty-three normal control subjects from our health examination center were recruited. NKA was measured using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit, which measures interferon-gamma secreted by ex vivo-stimulated NK cells in whole blood.
The 111 patients had a median NKA of 202.80 pg/mL (range 40-2,000). NKA was significantly decreased in patients with AML (median 47.05 pg/mL, 40-2,000, P<0.0001), MM (275.00, 40-2,000, P<0.0001), and lymphoma (289.49, 40-2,000, P<0.0001) compared with that in normal controls (1,891, 412-2,000). There was a difference in NKA between AML and lymphoma (P=0.0499). Serial changes in NKA correlated with disease progression. NKA did not correlate with the NK cell count in any group of hematological malignancies.
The measurement of NKA could be useful to evaluate the immunological status in hematological malignancies at diagnosis and during follow-up.


Natural killer cells; Interferon-gamma; Clinical application; Hematological malignancy
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