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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 897214, 12 pages
Review Article

Clinical Studies Applying Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells for the Treatment of Gastrointestinal Tumors

1Center for Integrated Oncology (CIO), University Medical Center Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Straße 25, 53127 Bonn, Germany
2Department of Internal Medicine I, University Medical Center Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Straße 25, 53127 Bonn, Germany

Received 8 October 2013; Accepted 30 November 2013; Published 16 January 2014

Academic Editor: Jaya Kumari

Copyright © 2014 Clara E. Jäkel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tumors of the gastrointestinal system represent a significant share of solid tumors worldwide. Despite the advances in diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis of gastrointestinal tumors is still very poor and improved therapies are indispensable. Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells are feasible for an immunotherapeutic approach as they are easily available and have an advantageous biologic profile; they are rapidly proliferating and their high cytotoxicity is non-MHC-restricted. We summarize and discuss twenty recent clinical studies applying CIK cells for the treatment of gastric, pancreatic, hepatocellular, and colorectal cancer. Autologous CIK cells were transfused intravenously, intraperitoneally, or via the common hepatic artery. In all studies side effects and toxicity of CIK cell therapy were mild and easily controllable. The combination of CIK cell therapy with conventional adjuvant or palliative therapies was superior to the standard therapy alone, indicating the benefit of CIK cell therapy for cancer patients. Thus, CIK cells represent a promising immunotherapy for the treatment of gastrointestinal tumors. The optimal treatment schedule and ideal combination with conventional therapies should be evaluated in further clinical studies.