Natural killer cell allorecognition of missing self in allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation: a tool for immunotherapy of leukemia

Curr Opin Immunol. 2009 Oct;21(5):525-30. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2009.07.015. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


Donor-versus-recipient natural killer (NK) cell alloreactivity has been established as a key therapeutic element in HLA haplotype mismatched hematopoietic transplants in adult AML and pediatric ALL and as a possible beneficial effector in cord blood transplant for AML. It is effected by functional NK cells which express inhibitory killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor(s) (KIR) for self-class I ligand(s), sense missing expression of donor KIR ligand(s) in the recipient and mediate alloreactions. At present NK cell allotherapy for leukemia is deployed through stem cell transplantation (and ensuing NK cell reconstitution) across KIR ligand mismatches. Studies have been performed to infuse NK cells for immunotherapy outside the fields of transplantation and/or harness the function of endogenous NK cells in patients with hematological malignancies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / therapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy
  • Transplantation, Homologous