, Volume 68, Issue 4, pp 735–748 | Cite as

A comparison between cytokine- and bead-stimulated polyclonal T cells: the superiority of each and their possible complementary role

  • Weng-Chee Chan
  • Yeh-Ching LinnEmail author
Original Research


Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells and T cells expanded by co-stimulation with beads presenting anti-CD3 and -CD28 antibodies are both polyclonal T cells under intensive laboratory and clinical studies, but there has not been any direct comparison between both. We compared the expansion, memory T cell subsets and cytotoxicity for T cells expanded in parallel by the two methods. Bead-stimulated T cells showed superior expansion as compared to CIK cells on D14 of culture. Bead-stimulated T cells consisted of a significantly higher CD4+ subset and significantly lower CD8+ subset as compared to CIK cells, as well as a higher proportion of less terminally differentiated T cells and a higher proportion of homing molecules. On the other hand, CIK cells exhibited significantly superior cytotoxicity against two myelomonocytic leukemia cell lines (THP-1 and U937) and two RCC cell lines (786.0 and CaKi-2). The cytotoxicity on D14 against THP-1 was 58.1 % for CIK cells and 8.3 % for bead-stimulated T cells at E:T of 10:1 (p < 0.01). Cytotoxicity correlated positively with the proportion of the CD8 subset in the culture and was independent of NKG2D recognition of susceptible targets. Polyclonal T cells expanded by different methods exhibit different characteristics which may define the specific role of each in different clinical scenario. We postulate that the more potent CIK cells may offer short term benefit while bead-stimulated T cells may offer a more sustained immune response.


Cytokine-induce killer cells CD3/CD28 beads co-stimulated T cells Cytotoxicity Memory T cell subsets 



The authors would like to thank their laboratory colleagues in Singapore General Hospital and National Cancer Center for their kind assistance in one way or other. This work was supported by funding from SingHealth Foundation PTC02/2007/005.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of HaematologySingapore General HospitalSingaporeSingapore

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