Potential role of NK cells in the induction of immune responses: implications for NK cell-based immunotherapy for cancers and viral infections

Int Rev Immunol. 2008;27(3):93-110. doi: 10.1080/08830180801911743.


Natural killer (NK) cells recognize tumor cells and virus-infected cells and attack without being sensitized to antigens. The development of the antitumor/antivirus activities of NK cells is controlled by multiple mechanisms such as direct cytotoxic activity against target cells, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, secretion of Th1-type cytokines, and interactions with dendritic cells. The development of these activities plays a significant role in both innate and adaptive immunities. Considering the recent progress made in elucidating the molecular and cellular biology of NK cells, we summarize the current situation and discuss future possibilities with regard to NK cell-based adoptive immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / therapy*


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Receptors, Immunologic