NK cells and apoptosis

Immunol Cell Biol. 1999 Feb;77(1):64-75. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1711.1999.00790.x.


Natural killer (NK) cells are a cell of the innate immune system that play an important role in the early response to viral infections and tumours. Natural killer cells are cytolytic, and secrete cytokines that influence the developing antigen-specific immune response. In the present article the NK cell surface molecules regulating effector function, the NK cell effector mechanisms involved in apoptosis, and the role of NK cell effector mechanisms in immune responses are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Parasitic Diseases / immunology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / immunology
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor