The prognostic impact of NK/NKT cell density in periampullary adenocarcinoma differs by morphological type and adjuvant treatment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Natural killer (NK) cells and NK T cells (NKT) are vital parts of tumour immunosurveillance. However, their impact on prognosis and chemotherapy response in periampullary adenocarcinoma, including pancreatic cancer, has not yet been described. Methods: Immune cell-specific expression of CD56, CD3, CD68 and CD1a was analysed by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays with tumours from 175 consecutive cases of periampullary adenocarcinoma, 110 of pancreatobiliary type (PB-type) and 65 of intestinal type (Itype) morphology. Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analysis were applied to determine the impact of CD56+ NK/NKT cells on 5-year overall survival (OS). Results: High density of CD56+ NK/NKT cells correlated with low N-stage and lack of perineural, lymphatic vessel and peripancreatic fat invasion. High density of CD56+ NK/NKT cells was associated with prolonged OS in Kaplan-Meier analysis (p = 0.003), and in adjusted Cox regression analysis (HR = 0.49; 95% CI 0.29-0.86). The prognostic effect of high CD56+ NK/NKT cell infiltration was only evident in cases not receiving adjuvant chemotherapy in PB-type tumours (p for interaction = 0.014). Conclusion: This study demonstrates that abundant infiltration of CD56+ NK/NKT cells is associated with a prolonged survival in periampullary adenocarcinoma. However, the negative interaction with adjuvant treatment is noteworthy. NK cell enhancing strategies may prove to be successful in the management of these cancers.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Clinical Medicine
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0156497
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1
Publication categoryResearch