Protocol for Isolation, Stimulation and Functional Profiling of Primary and iPSC-derived Human NK Cells

Janine E Melsen, Maria Themeli, Monique M van Ostaijen-Ten Dam, Els van Beelen, Gertjan Lugthart, Rob C Hoeben, Marco W Schilham, Harald M Mikkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells, characterized by their cytotoxic capacity, and chemokine and cytokine secretion upon activation. Human NK cells are identified by CD56 expression. Circulating NK cells can be further subdivided into the CD56bright (~10%) and CD56dim NK cell subsets (~90%). NK cell-like cells can also be derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). To study the chemokine and cytokine secretion profile of the distinct heterogenous NK cell subsets, intracellular flow cytometry staining can be performed. However, this assay is challenging when the starting material is limited. Alternatively, NK cell subsets can be enriched, sorted, stimulated, and functionally profiled by measuring secreted effector molecules in the supernatant by Luminex. Here, we provide a rapid and straightforward protocol for the isolation and stimulation of primary NK cells or iPSC-derived NK cell-like cells, and subsequent detection of secreted cytokines and chemokines, which is also applicable for a low number of cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e3845
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020

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