Multidimensional analyses of donor memory-like NK cells reveal new associations with response after adoptive immunotherapy for leukemia

Melissa M. Berrien-Elliott, Amanda F. Cashen, Celia C. Cubitt, Carly C. Neal, Pamela Wong, Julia A. Wagner, Mark Foster, Timothy Schappe, Sweta Desai, Ethan McClain, Michelle Becker-Hapak, Jennifer A. Foltz, Matthew L. Cooper, Natalia Jaeger, Sridhar Nonavinkere Srivatsan, Feng Gao, Rizwan Romee, Camille N. Abboud, Geoffrey L. Uy, Peter WesterveltMeagan A. Jacoby, Iskra Pusic, Keith E. Stockerl-Goldstein, Mark A. Schroeder, John Di Persio, Todd A. Fehniger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells are an emerging cancer cellular therapy and potent media-tors of antitumor immunity. Cytokine-induced memory-like (ML) NK cellular therapy is safe and induces remissions in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, the dynamic changes in phenotype that occur after NK-cell transfer that affect patient outcomes remain unclear. Here, we report comprehensive multidimensional correlates from ML NK cell–treated patients with AML using mass cytometry. These data identify a unique in vivo differentiated ML NK–cell phenotype distinct from conventional NK cells. Moreover, the inhibitory receptor NKG2A is a dominant, transcrip-tionally induced checkpoint important for ML, but not conventional NK-cell responses to cancer. The + frequency of CD8α donor NK cells is negatively associated with AML patient outcomes after ML NK therapy. Thus, elucidating the multidimensional dynamics of donor ML NK cells in vivo revealed critical factors important for clinical response, and new avenues to enhance NK-cell therapeutics. SIGNIFICANCE: Mass cytometry reveals an in vivo memory-like NK-cell phenotype, where NKG2A is a dominant checkpoint, and CD8α is associated with treatment failure after ML NK–cell therapy. These findings identify multiple avenues for optimizing ML NK–cell immunotherapy for cancer and define mechanisms important for ML NK–cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1854-1872
Number of pages19
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


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