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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(7), 1600;

The Effects of Artemisinin on the Cytolytic Activity of Natural Killer (NK) Cells

Nano-Bio Resources Center, Sookmyung Women’s University, Chungpa-Dong 2-Ka, Yongsan-ku, Seoul 140-742, Korea
Department of Cosmetic Sciences, Sookmyung Women’s University, Chungpa-Dong 2-Ka, Yongsan-ku, Seoul 04310, Korea
Department of Anatomy, Inje University College of Medicine, Busan 614-735, Korea
Department of Plastic Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 50 Ilwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06351, Korea
Department of Dermatology, Yeouido St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 150-713, Korea
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 3 June 2017 / Revised: 13 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 24 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Killer (NK) Cells)
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Artemisinin, a chemical compound used for the treatment of malaria, has been known to show anti-cancer activity. However, the effect of this chemical on natural killer (NK) cells, which are involved in tumor killing, remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that artemisinin exerts a potent anti-cancer effect by activating NK cells. NK-92MI cells pre-treated with artemisinin were subjected to a cytotoxicity assay using K562 cells. The results showed that artemisinin significantly enhances the cytolytic activity of NK cells in a dose-dependent manner. Additionally, the artemisinin-enhanced cytotoxic effect of NK-92MI cells on tumor cells was accompanied by the stimulation of granule exocytosis, as evidenced by the detection of CD107a expression in NK cells. Moreover, this enhancement of cytotoxicity by artemisinin was also observed in human primary NK cells from peripheral blood. Our results suggest that artemisinin enhances human NK cell cytotoxicity and degranulation. This is the first evidence that artemisinin exerts antitumor activity by enhancing NK cytotoxicity. Therefore, these results provide a deeper understanding of the action of artemisinin and will contribute to the development and application of this class of compounds in cancer treatment strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural killer cells; artemisinin; cytotoxicity; degranulation natural killer cells; artemisinin; cytotoxicity; degranulation

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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 (CC BY 4.0).

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Houh, Y.K.; Kim, K.E.; Park, S.; Hur, D.Y.; Kim, S.; Kim, D.; Bang, S.I.; Yang, Y.; Park, H.J.; Cho, D. The Effects of Artemisinin on the Cytolytic Activity of Natural Killer (NK) Cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 1600.

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