Clinical utility of a novel natural killer cell activity assay for diagnosing non-small cell lung cancer: A prospective pilot study

Sue In Choi, Seung Hyeun Lee, Ji-Young Park, Kyoung Ah Kim, Eun Joo Lee, Sang Yeub Lee, Kwang Ho In

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Although decreased natural killer cell activity (NKA) has been observed in many solid cancers, clinical implication of NKA has been scarcely investigated in lung cancer. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of using NKA to support diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Materials and methods: We prospectively evaluated and compared peripheral blood NKA using a novel interferon-gamma releasing assay in healthy population (n=40), patients with benign lung disease (n=40), and those with NSCLC (n=71). We explored the correlation between NKA and clinical parameters and assessed diagnostic performance of NKA for NSCLC using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Results: Median NKA values in healthy population, patients with benign lung disease, and those with NSCLC were 1,364.2, 1,438.2, and 406.3 pg/mL, respectively. NKA in NSCLC patients was significantly lower than that in the other two control groups (both P,0.001). At a cutoff value of NKA at 391.0 pg/mL, the area under the curve was 0.762 (95% CI: 0.685–0.838, P,0.001), with a sensitivity of 52.3%, a specificity of 91.0%, a positive predictive value of 85.3%, and a negative predictive value of 65.4% for the diagnosis of NSCLC. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that diagnosis of NSCLC is the only clinical parameter that was significantly associated with NKA (P,0.001). Conclusion: This pilot study showed that patients with low NKA were more likely to have lung cancer. Further studies are warranted in order to establish the clinical utility of NKA test for diagnosing lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1661-1669
Number of pages9
JournalOncoTargets and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1



  • Diagnosis
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Lung cancer
  • Natural killer cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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