Natural killer cell responses to viral infection

J Innate Immun. 2011;3(3):274-9. doi: 10.1159/000324176. Epub 2011 Mar 12.


Natural killer (NK) cells, as part of the innate immune system, play a key role in host defense against viral infections. Recent advances have indicated that NK cell activation and function are regulated by the interplay between inhibitory and activating signals. Thus, a better understanding of mechanisms responsible for NK cell activation and function in the control of viral infections will help develop NK cell-based therapies. In this review, we will first discuss how NK cells are activated in response to viral infections. We will then focus on the recruitment of activated NK cells to the site of infection as well as on NK cell effector mechanisms against virally infected cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunotherapy* / trends
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / virology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*