Natural killer cells in the central nervous system

Cell Commun Signal. 2023 Nov 29;21(1):341. doi: 10.1186/s12964-023-01324-9.


Natural killer (NK) cells are essential components of the innate lymphoid cell family that work as both cytotoxic effectors and immune regulators. Accumulating evidence points to interactions between NK cells and the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we review the basic knowledge of NK cell biology and recent advances in their roles in the healthy CNS and pathological conditions, with a focus on normal aging, CNS autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and CNS infections. We highlight the crosstalk between NK cells and diverse cell types in the CNS and the potential value of NK cells as novel therapeutic targets for CNS diseases. Video Abstract.

Keywords: Aging; Central nervous system; Multiple sclerosis; NK cells; Neurodegenerative diseases.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System* / pathology
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology