Lymphokine-activated killer cell

In cell biology, a lymphokine-activated killer cell (also known as a LAK cell) is a white blood cell that has been stimulated to kill tumor cells.[1] If lymphocytes are cultured in the presence of Interleukin 2, it results in the development of effector cells which are cytotoxic to tumor cells.[2]


It has been shown that lymphocytes, when exposed to Interleukin 2, are capable of lysing fresh, non-cultured cancer cells, both primary and metastatic.[3] LAK cells respond to these lymphokines, particularly IL-2, by lysing tumor cells that were already known to be resistant to NK cell activity.[4]

The mechanism of LAK cells is distinctive from that of natural killer cells because they can lyse cells that NK cells cannot.[4] LAK cells are also capable of acting against cells that do not display the major histocompatibility complex, as has been shown by the ability to cause lysis in non-immunogenic, allogeneic and syngeneic tumors.[4] LAK cells are specific to tumor cells and do not display activity against normal cells.[4]

Cancer TreatmentEdit

LAK cells, along with the administration of IL-2 have been experimentally used to treat cancer in mice and humans, but there is very high toxicity with this treatment - Severe fluid retention was the major side effect of therapy, although all side effects resolved after interleukin-2 administration was stopped.[5]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ "Definition of lymphokine-activated killer cell". National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 2007-03-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Medical Dictionary: Lymphokine-activated killer cell". Wrong Diagnosis. Retrieved 2007-03-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ E A Fagan and A L Eddleston (1987). "Immunotherapy for cancer: the use of lymphokine activated killer (LAK) cells". Gut. 28 (2): 113–116. doi:10.1136/gut.28.2.113. PMC 1432985. PMID 3549471.
  4. ^ a b c d Lafreniere R, Rosenberg SA (1985). "Successful immunotherapy of murine experimental hepatic metastases with lymphokine-activated killer cells and recombinant Interleukin 2". Cancer Res. 45: 3735–41.
  5. ^ Rosenberg SA, Lotze MT, Muul LM, et al. (1985). "Observations on the systemic administration of autologous lymohokine-activated killer cells and recombinant interleukin-2 to patients with metastatic cancer". New England Journal of Medicine. 313: 1485–92. doi:10.1056/nejm198512053132327. PMID 3903508.

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