Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes critical in the early innate immune response to foreign cells, pathogens and stressed immune cells, such as those affected during tumor transformation. NK cell activation, like T cells, is controlled by a dynamic balance between stimulatory and inhibitory signaling pathways. Upon activation, the surface receptors of NK cells trigger cytotoxic activity and initiate secretion of cytokines and chemokines that, in return, regulate other immune cells. Studies have shown that NK cells may potentially provide a link between the innate and adaptive immune system due to their ability to develop antigen-specific long-term memory during viral infection. Additionally, NK cells inhibit adaptive immune response by decreasing tumor-specific CD8+ cell response and antigen presentation in tumor-associated lymph nodes.
Thank you for participating in this module. Click below to download the certificate.