NK Cell Responses Redefine Immunological Memory

J Immunol. 2016 Oct 15;197(8):2963-2970. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1600973.


Immunological memory has traditionally been regarded as a unique trait of the adaptive immune system. Nevertheless, there is evidence of immunological memory in lower organisms and invertebrates, which lack an adaptive immune system. Despite their innate ability to rapidly produce effector cytokines and kill virally infected or transformed cells, NK cells also exhibit adaptive characteristics such as clonal expansion, longevity, self-renewal, and robust recall responses to antigenic or nonantigenic stimuli. In this review, we highlight the intracellular and extracellular requirements for memory NK cell generation and describe the emerging evidence for memory precursor NK cells and their derivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Invertebrates / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*