Background: Although there is convincing data in support of the effectiveness of hyperthermia in tumor therapy, the molecular mechanisms underlying the clinical effects of hyperthermia are still poorly understood.
Objective: To investigate natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity against heat-treated SW-872 and HeLa tumor cell lines.
Methods: NKG2D ligands and HLA class I transcription were examined using quantitative real-time PCR in treated tumor cell lines at 0, 2, 4, 6 and 12 h following thermal treatment at 39C and 42C for 1 h. The expression of MICA/B, ULBP1 and ULBP2 were also determined by flow cytometry. NK92-MI cytotoxic activity against heat-treated target cell lines was assessed by LDH release as well as annexin-V and 7-AAD assays.
Results: Our results showed that heat treatment at 39C improved the cytolytic activity of NK cells against SW-872 cells without increasing NKG2D ligand concentration or decreasing HLA class I levels.
Conclusion: The observed increase in the cytotoxicity of NK cells against SW-872 cells after hyperthermia does not coincide with changes in MICA/B, ULBP1 and ULBP2 ligands of NKG2, however, the expression of other ligands in target cells may have made the cells susceptible to the cytotoxic effect of NK cells.