NIH Research Festival
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is an incapacitating condition which greatly detriments the quality of life for oncology patients undergoing cancer therapy. It is believed to have neurologic, immunologic, and endocrinologic causes. Natural killer (NK) cells have been proposed to play a crucial role in the development of chronic fatigue in cancer patients. This study aims to investigate the role of NK cells in CRF by comparing NK cell-induced cytotoxicity in fatigued patients and healthy individuals. First, whole blood was obtained from one fatigued cancer patient after undergoing radiation therapy and two healthy controls from the NIH Clinical Center, Department of Transfusion Medicine. Fatigue was assessed using the validated Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - Fatigue questionnaire. NK cells were positively selected from whole blood using magnetic CD56 beads. Afterward, the isolated NK cells were treated with ACK lysis buffer to remove red blood cells and placed in a liquid nitrogen tank for cryopreservation. These NK cells were thawed and incubated overnight for recovery. To observe the cytotoxic activity of NK cells, we co-cultured calcein-stained K562 cells, which are commercially-available, immortalized human myelogenous leukemia cells, with the previously isolated NK cells. Green-fluorescent cells, which reflect the K562 cells, were counted. The NK cells were also counted using a cell sorter. The results suggest that cytotoxic activity of NK cells in fatigued cancer patients was 28% less than those observed in NK cells of healthy individuals. These preliminary findings will help us to further understand the role of NK cells in CRF.
Scientific Focus Area: Cancer Biology
This page was last updated on Friday, March 26, 2021