How do cytotoxic lymphocytes kill their targets?

Curr Opin Immunol. 1998 Oct;10(5):581-7. doi: 10.1016/s0952-7915(98)80227-6.


CD8+ cytotoxic lymphocytes, natural killer cells and lymphokine-activated killer cells depend primarily on the perforin/granzyme system to kill their targets, while CD4+ T cells utilize Fas and other mechanisms to induce cell death. The molecular mechanisms used by these pathways to induce target cell apoptosis may converge on common death substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Granzymes
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology
  • Perforin
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • Serine Endopeptidases / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • fas Receptor / physiology


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins
  • fas Receptor
  • Perforin
  • GZMB protein, human
  • Granzymes
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • GZMA protein, human