Analysis of NK Cell Dysfunction in TME

The dysfunction of natural killer (NK) cells within the tumor microenvironment (TME) poses a significant challenge to effective cancer immunotherapy. At Alfa Cytology, we understand the significance of adopting a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that delves into the intricate complexities of this process.

The Role of NK Cell in TME

NK cells, a type of immune cell known for their ability to recognize and kill cancer cells, can be adversely affected within the TME, resulting in NK cell dysfunction. This dysfunction is marked by limited effector cytokine secretion and a diminished ability to eradicate cancer cells. Multiple factors contribute to this condition, such as hindered migration to the tumor location, activation of suppressive pathways, interference with activation signals, and disturbed metabolic processes. These studies aim to uncover the mechanisms responsible for these dysfunctions and their impact on the immune response against cancer. Analyzing the factors that contribute to NK cell dysfunction within the TME is crucial for the development of innovative strategies aimed at enhancing the anti-tumor activity mediated by NK cells and improving the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy.

Mechanisms of Natural Killer (NK) cell dysfunction within the tumor microenvironmentFig. 1 Mechanisms of Natural Killer (NK) cell dysfunction within the tumor microenvironment. (Portale F, et al., 2023)

Analysis of NK Cell Dysfunction in TME

At Alfa Cytology, we specialize in conducting in-depth analyses of NK cell dysfunction. Our expertise allow us to unravel the intricate interactions between NK cells and the TME. Our services include, but are not limited to:

  • NK cell Cytokine Profiling
    Cytokines play a critical role in regulating NK cell function. We use methods such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or multiplex cytokine assays to measure the levels of various cytokines in the TME. This offers valuable insights into the cytokine within the TME and its potential influence on NK cell function.
  • NK cell Degranulation Assays
    The measurement of NK cell degranulation serves as a valuable marker of their cytotoxic potential. At Alfa Cytology, we utilize flow cytometry-based assays to assess NK cell degranulation upon stimulation by target cells, using antibodies against degranulation markers such as CD107a. Through these assays, we are able to elucidate the functional impairment of NK cells in the TME.
  • Evaluation of Checkpoint Molecules
    We utilize echniques such as multiparameter flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry (IHC) to analyze checkpoint molecules, including PD-1, NKG2A, LAG-3, TIM-3, TIGIT, CD112R, and CD96. Through this analysis, we facilitate our clients in unraveling the complex interplay between NK cell dysfunction and checkpoint molecules within the TME.
  • Analysis of NK Cell Function in the Hypoxic and Acidic TME
    The TME can create a hypoxic and acidic niche that significantly impacts the function of NK cells. We utilize techniques like western blotting and IHC to evaluate the stability of hypoxia-induced hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF). Furthermore, we employ quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to quantify the expression of HIF response genes in NK cells. By combining these methods, we gain a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying NK cell dysfunction in the hypoxic and acidic TME.

The Advantages of Our NK Cell Dysfunction Analysis

  • We employ advanced technologies to conduct functional assays, evaluate checkpoint molecules, and study hypoxia and acidification effects, enabling us to gather detailed insights into the factors contributing to NK cell dysfunction.
  • We offer customized services tailored to the specific requirements of our clients. Whether it's a particular aspect of NK cell dysfunction or a specialized analysis approach, our team works closely with clients to design and execute personalized studies.
  • Along with the experimental work, we provide comprehensive data analysis services. Our team employs bioinformatics and statistical tools to analyze and interpret the experimental results, ensuring accurate and meaningful conclusions.

At Alfa Cytology, we are passionate about progressing comprehension of NK cell dysfunction within the TME. Through our comprehensive services and customized approaches, we aim to support the research efforts of our clients and contribute to the development of effective immunotherapies. Contact us today to learn more about NK cell dysfunction analysis and how it can catalyze your research progression.


  1. Portale F, et al. Mechanisms of Dysfunction and Therapeutic Potential. Mol Cancer, 2023;24(11):9521.

All of our services and products are intended for preclinical research use only and cannot be used to diagnose, treat or manage patients.


Alfa Cytology is a service provider specializing in tumor microenvironment research.

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