Ex Vivo Expanded Human NK Cells Survive and Proliferate in Humanized Mice with Autologous Human Immune Cells
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Adoptive immune cell therapy is emerging as a promising immunotherapy for cancer. Particularly, the adoptive transfer of NK cells has garnered attention due to their natural cytotoxicity against tumor cells and safety upon adoptive transfer to patients. Although strategies exist to efficiently generate large quantities of expanded NK cells ex vivo, it remains unknown whether these expanded NK cells can persist and/or proliferate in vivo in the absence of exogenous human cytokines. Here, we have examined the adoptive transfer of ex vivo expanded human cord blood-derived NK cells into humanized mice reconstituted with autologous human cord blood immune cells. We report that ex vivo expanded NK cells are able to survive and possibly proliferate in vivo in humanized mice without exogenous cytokine administration, but not in control mice that lack human immune cells. These findings demonstrate that the presence of autologous human immune cells supports the in vivo survival of ex vivo expanded human NK cells. These results support the application of ex vivo expanded NK cells in cancer immunotherapy and provide a translational humanized mouse model to test the lifespan, safety, and functionality of adoptively transferred cells in the presence of autologous human immune cells prior to clinical use.
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