Bitter melon enhances natural killer-mediated toxicity against head and neck cancer cells

Sourav Bhattacharya, Naoshad Muhammad, Robert Steele, Jacki Kornbluth, Ratna B. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells are one of the major components of innate immunity, with the ability tomediate antitumor activity. Understanding the role of NK-cell-mediated tumor killing in controlling of solid tumor growth is still in the developmental stage. We have shown recently that bitter melon extract (BME) modulates the regulatory T cell (Treg) population in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, the role of BME in NK-cell modulation against HNSCC remains unknown. In this study, we investigated whether BME can enhance the NK-cell killing activity against HNSCC cells. Our results indicated that treatment of human NK-cell line (NK3.3) with BME enhances ability to kill HNSCC cells. BME increases granzyme B accumulation and translocation/accumulation of CD107a/ LAMP1 in NK3.3 cells exposed to BME. Furthermore, an increase in cell surface expression of CD16 and NKp30 in BME-treated NK3.3 cells was observed when cocultured with HNSCC cells. Collectively, our results demonstrated for the first time that BME augments NK-cell-mediated HNSCC killing activity, implicating an immunomodulatory role of BME.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


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