• cytotoxicity;
  • dendritic cells;
  • ifosfamide;
  • NK cells;
  • proliferation


Ifosfamide is a DNA-alkylating agent used frequently in chemotherapy of human malignancies. Ifosfamide and its major decomposition products deplete intracellular glutathione (GSH). Glutathione is the major intracellular thiol reductant that protects cells against oxidative injury. Ifosfamide depletion of intracellular GSH in human dendritic cells (DC), T cells and natural killer (NK) cells impairs their functional activity which can be restored by reconstituting GSH. Here we assessed the effect of ifosfamide on DC-mediated stimulation of NK cell proliferation via T cells and on direct DC stimulation of NK cell cytotoxicity and interferon (IFN)-γ production. Indirect DC stimulation of NK cell proliferation via T cells and T cell-derived interleukin (IL)-2 were reduced by ifosfamide treatment of DC and reconstitution of GSH in DC restored both responses. When DC and NK cells were treated with ifosfamide, DC could overcome the negative effect of ifosfamide on NK cytotoxic function whereas NK cell IFN-γ production was less efficiently restored. The ability of IL-2 activated NK cells to kill autologous immature DC or to induce DC maturation was reduced moderately by treatment of both cell types with ifosfamide. Overall, our results suggest that DC may stimulate anti-tumour effector cells in patients even if they had received treatment with chemotherapeutic agents such as ifosfamide.