Mechanism of surgical stress impairment of murine natural killer cell cytotoxicity

Raphael Etomar Pollock, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Natural killer cells may provide an important first line of defense against metastatic implantation of solid tumors. This antitumor function occurs during the intravascular and visceral lodgment phase of cancer dissemination, as demonstrated in small animal metastasis models. The role of the NK cell in controlling human tumor dissemination is more difficult to confirm, at least partially because of ethical restraints on experimental design. Nonetheless, a large number of solid tumor patient studies have demonstrated NK cell cytolysis of both autologous and allogeneic tumors. Of the major cancer therapeutic modalities, successful surgery in conjunction with other treatments offers the best possibility of cure. However, small animal experiments have demonstrated that surgical stress can lead to increased rates of primary tumor take, and increased incidence, size, and rapidity of metastasis development. Because the physiologic impact of surgical stress can also markedly impair perioperative antitumor immune function in humans, we examined the effect of surgical stress on perioperative NK cell cytolytic function in a murine preclinical model. Our studies demonstrated that hindlimb amputation led to a marked impairment of postoperative NK cell cytotoxicity. The mechanism underlying this process is complex and involves the postsurgical generation of splenic erythroblasts that successfully compete with NK cells for tumor target binding sites; NK cell-directed suppressor cell populations; and a direct impairment of NK cell recycling capacity. The observed postoperative NK cell suppression could be prevented by in vivo administration of pyrimidinone biologic response modifiers or by short term in vitro exposure of effector cells to recombinant Interleukin-2. It is hoped that insights gained from this research may help in the future development of NK cell specific perioperative immunotherapy relevant to the solid tumor patients undergoing cancer resection.

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Recommended Citation

Pollock, Raphael Etomar, "Mechanism of surgical stress impairment of murine natural killer cell cytotoxicity" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9033103.