Fc-engineered anti-CD33 monoclonal antibody potentiates cytotoxicity of membrane-bound interleukin-21 expanded natural killer cells in acute myeloid leukemia

Rajeswaran Mani, Girish Rajgolikar, Jessica Nunes, Kevan Zapolnik, Ronni Wasmuth, Xiaokui Mo, John C. Byrd, Dean A. Lee, Natarajan Muthusamy, Sumithira Vasu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Qualitative and quantitative defects in natural killer (NK) cells have been noted in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), providing rationale for infusion of donor-derived NK cells. We previously showed that decitabine enhances expression of NKG2D ligands in AML with additive cytotoxicity when NK cells and Fc (fragment crystallizable region)-engineered CD33 monoclonal antibody (CD33mAb) was used. We conducted a phase 1 study evaluating decitabine and haploidentical NK cells in relapsed AML. Using patient samples from this study, we evaluated whether ex vivo donor-derived expanded NK cells with or without CD33mAb was effective in decitabine-treated AML. Methods: Bone marrow aspirates were collected from patients at pre- and post-NK cell infusion. NK cells from healthy donors were expanded for 14 days using irradiated K562 feeder cells displaying membrane-bound IL-21 (mbIL-21). Patient samples were used to test in vitro activity of mbIL-21 NK cells ± CD33m Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and AML patient derived xenograft (PDX) mice were developed to test in vivo activity. Results: Upon incubation with primary AML blasts, mbIL-21 NK cells showed variable donor-dependent intra-cellular interferon-γ production, which increased with CD33mAb-coated AML. ADCC assays revealed mbIL-21 NK cells effectively lysed primary AML blasts with higher activity on CD33mAb-coated AML. Importantly, CD33mAb-dependent enhanced cytotoxicity by mbIL-21 NK cells was maintained in AML cells from patients even 24 days post-decitabine treatment. In vivo infusion of mbIL-21 NK cells in AML PDX mice, treated with CD33mAb, reduced the tumor burden. Discussion: These data show the therapeutic utility of mbIL-21 NK cells that can be further potentiated by addition of CD33mAb in AML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-376
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Transplantation

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