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Curr Opin Hematol. 2012 Jul;19(4):319-23. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0b013e32835423c3.

Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors reactivity and outcome of stem cell transplant.

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  • 1Division of Hematology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy.



This review focuses on advances in the field of natural killer (NK) cell alloreactivity as a form of immunotherapy in the setting of allogeneic haematopoietic transplantation.


Recent research has focused on mechanisms underlying the acquisition of function by NK cells after haematopoietic transplantation, on the therapeutic impact of NK-cell alloreactivity in various forms of transplantation and in adoptive immunotherapy. Finally, studies have highlighted the role of NK-cell responses in viral infections after transplantation.


Donor-versus-recipient NK-cell alloreactivity is established as a key therapeutic element in human leukocyte antigen haplotype-mismatched haematopoietic transplants in adult acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). NK-cell allotherapy for leukaemia is deployed through stem cell transplantation (and ensuing NK-cell reconstitution) across killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor ligand mismatches. Donor-derived NK cells were also reported to respond to cytomegalovirus by acquiring features that are reminiscent of the specificity and memory of adaptive (T-cell) immune responses. As NK cells are the earliest immune cells to recover after transplant, this observation suggests they may contribute to controlling viral reactivation early after transplant.

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