The trafficking of natural killer cells

Immunol Rev. 2007 Dec;220(1):169-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2007.00563.x.


Natural killer (NK) cells are large granular lymphocytes of the innate immune system that participate in the early control of microbial infections and cancer. NK cells can induce the death of autologous cells undergoing various forms of stress, recognizing and providing non-microbial 'danger' signals to the immune system. NK cells are widely distributed in lymphoid and non-lymphoid organs. NK cell precursors originate from the bone marrow and go through a complex maturation process that leads to the acquisition of their effector functions, to changes in their expression of integrins and chemotactic receptors, and to their redistribution from the bone marrow and lymph nodes to blood, spleen, liver, and lung. Here, we describe the tissue localization of NK cells, using NKp46 as an NK cell marker, and review the current knowledge on the mechanisms that govern their trafficking in humans and in mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 1
  • Receptors, Immunologic / analysis


  • NCR1 protein, human
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 1
  • Receptors, Immunologic