Natural killer cell-directed therapies: moving from unexpected results to successful strategies

Nat Immunol. 2008 May;9(5):486-94. doi: 10.1038/ni1580.


Natural killer (NK) cells influence innate and adaptive immune host defenses. Existing data indicate that manipulating the balance between inhibitory and activating NK receptor signals, the sensitivity of target cells to NK cell-mediated apoptosis, and NK cell cross-talk with dendritic cells might hold therapeutic promise. Efforts to modulate NK cell trafficking into inflamed tissues and/or lymph nodes, and to counteract NK cell suppressors, might also prove fruitful in the clinic. However, deeper investigation into the benefits of combination therapy, greater understanding of the functional distinctions between NK cell subsets, and design of new tools to monitor NK cell activity are needed to strengthen our ability to harness the power of NK cells for therapeutic aims.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Killer Cells, Natural* / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural* / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Immunologic