Characterization of NKR+ T-cell subsets in human bone marrow: implications for immunosurveillance of neoplasia

Clin Immunol. 2005 Jan;114(1):42-51. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2004.08.017.


In addition to hematopoietic progenitors, human bone marrow contains mature T/NK lymphocytes. Valpha24Vbeta11 NKT-cells, a subset of NK receptor+ (NKR+) T-cells in humans, are rare in bone marrow, suggesting the presence of other NKR+ T-cells which may contribute to tumor surveillance. NKR+/- T-cells were examined in blood (PB), and bone marrow from donors (DM) and patients with active hematopoietic malignancy (PM), or in remission (PR). T-cells in PR & PM were enriched for CD56+ and CD57+ subsets, compared to DM. All marrow NKR+/- T-cell subsets were more activated than PB. PM and, surprisingly, PR marrow contained more activated cells than DM. CD8+ cells were significantly increased in all patient marrows and there was evidence of the formation of an effector/memory pool in malignant marrow. These data suggest that NKR+ T-cell enrichment in human bone marrow that has been exposed to neoplastic transformation is compatible with a role in localized tumor surveillance/eradication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunologic Surveillance*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / physiology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology*


  • Biomarkers