Self-tolerance of natural killer cells

Nat Rev Immunol. 2006 Jul;6(7):520-31. doi: 10.1038/nri1863.


Natural killer (NK) cells, similar to other lymphocytes, acquire tolerance to self. This means that NK cells have the potential to attack normal self cells but that there are mechanisms to ensure that this does not usually occur. Self-tolerance is acquired by NK cells during their development, but the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recent studies have produced important new information about NK-cell self-tolerance. Here, we review the evidence for and against possible mechanisms of NK-cell self-tolerance, with an emphasis on the role of MHC-specific receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Self Tolerance / immunology*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens
  • Receptors, Immunologic