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Autoimmunity. 2011 Feb;44(1):3-10. doi: 10.3109/08916931003782122. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Natural killer cells as indispensable players and therapeutic targets in autoimmunity.

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Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, 154 Anshan Road, Heping District, Tianjin 300052, PR China.


Natural killer (NK) cells of the innate immune system are equipped with a cytolytic machinery and produce cytokines, which enable these cells to profoundly modify adaptive immune responses to foreign invaders, as well as to self-antigens. Here we discuss the recent advances in understanding how NK cells can proactively influence sequential pathogenic steps that are instrumental for the initiation and progression of autoimmune diseases in human and experimental disease models. We also discuss the possible use of NK cells as a surrogate marker for disease activity and responsiveness to immune therapy. Finally, we present results on NK cell-based therapies in inflammatory and autoimmune disorders with a focus on existing challenges and current promises for the development of more effective therapies.

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