Generation and assessment of cytokine-induced killer cells for the treatment of colorectal cancer liver metastases

Celine Man Ying Li, Yoko Tomita, Bimala Dhakal, Teresa Tin, Runhao Li, Josephine A. Wright, Laura Vrbanac, Susan L. Woods, Paul Drew, Timothy Price, Eric Smith, Guy J. Maddern, Kevin Fenix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells are an adoptive immunotherapy reported to have strong anti-tumour activity across a range of cancers. They are a heterogeneous mix of lymphoid cells generated by culturing human peripheral blood mononuclear cells with cytokines and monoclonal antibodies in vitro. In this study, we investigated the yield and function of CIK cells generated from patients with CRC liver metastases. We first showed that CIK cells generated in serum free medium X-VIVO 15 were comparable to those from RPMI medium with 10% FBS in terms of the number and percentages of the main subsets of cells in the CIK culture, and the intracellular levels of granzyme B and perforin, and the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-2, IFN-γ and TNF-α. The CIK cells were cytotoxic to CRC cell lines grown in 2D cultures or as spheroids, and against autologous patient-derived tumour organoids. Donor attributes such as age, sex, or prior chemotherapy exposure had no significant impact on CIK cell numbers or function. These results suggest that functional CIK cells can be generated from patients with CRC liver metastatic disease, and support further investigations into the therapeutic application of autologous CIK cells in the management of patients with CRC liver metastases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jan 2024


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cytokine-induced killer cells
  • Liver metastases
  • Patient-derived tumour organoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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