Natural killer cells and anti-cancer therapies: Reciprocal effects on immune function and therapeutic response

Elisa C. Toffoli, Abdolkarim Sheikhi, Yannick D. Höppner, Pita de Kok, Mahsa Yazdanpanah-Samani, Jan Spanholtz, Henk M.W. Verheul, Hans J. van der Vliet, Tanja D. de Gruijl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Natural Killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells with the unique ability to recognize and kill virus-infected and cancer cells without prior immune sensitization. Due to their expression of the Fc receptor CD16, effector NK cells can kill tumor cells through antibody-dependent cytotoxicity, making them relevant players in antibody-based cancer therapies. The role of NK cells in other approved and experimental anti-cancer therapies is more elusive. Here, we review the possible role of NK cells in the efficacy of various anti-tumor therapies, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, as well as the impact of these therapies on NK cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number711
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Anti-cancer therapies
  • Cancer
  • Checkpoint inhibitors
  • Chemotherapy
  • Local ablation therapies
  • NK cells
  • Oncolytic virus
  • Protein kinase inhibitors
  • Radiotherapy

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