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Immunol Lett. 2011 May;136(2):115-21. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2010.11.001. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

The role of Natural Killer cells in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis: major contributors or essential homeostatic modulators?

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Cytokine Biology, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.


Natural Killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes of the innate immune system, originally described by their capacity to control tumour cells and eliminate virus-infected cells. However accumulating evidence suggests that NK cells can interact with various components of the immune system and play a critical role in autoimmune diseases by limiting or exacerbating immune responses. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterised by joint inflammation and cartilage and bone destruction. NK cells are enriched within the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis but how they contribute to disease pathology is currently not fully elucidated. This review will outline the current understanding of NK cell biology and how these cells may modulate disease pathogenesis in rheumatoid arthritis through interactions with other immune cells.

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