Calcium, cancer and killing: The role of calcium in killing cancer cells
by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells
Eva C. Schwarz, Bin Qu, Markus Hoth
Killing cancer cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and by natural killer (NK) cells is of vital importance. Cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis depend on the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, and the expression of numerous ion channels with the ability to control intracellular Ca2+ concentrations has been correlated with cancer. A rise of intracellular Ca2+ concentrations is also required for efficient CTL and NK cell function and thus for killing their targets, in this case cancer cells. Here, we review the data on Ca2+-dependent killing of cancer cells by CTL and NK cells. In addition, we discuss emerging ideas and present a model how Ca2+ may be used by CTL and NK cells to optimize their cancer cell killing efficiency. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 12th European Symposium on Calcium.