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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2013 Aug;12(8):875-84. doi: 10.1586/14760584.2013.814871.

Type I interferon regulation of natural killer cell function in primary and secondary infections.

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Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster Immunology Research Centre, McMaster University, Hamilton, MDCL 4015, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, L8S 4K1, ON, Canada.


The priming of natural killer (NK) cells by type I interferon (IFN) is necessary for protection against primary and secondary viral infections. However, the pathway by which type I IFN activates NK cells to elicit antiviral responses is controversial. There is evidence to suggest that type I IFN priming of NK cells occurs through both direct and indirect pathways. As with many innate mechanisms, type I IFN and NK cells also orchestrate the adaptive immune response and thus aid in protection against secondary infections. Type I IFN can shape CD4(+) T cell, B cell and humoral memory formation. In addition, long-lived NK cells can perform specific and enhanced memory-like protection in secondary infections. This review outlines the different mechanisms underlying type I IFN regulation of NK cells and how type I IFN and NK cells can be used as a therapeutic target in vaccinations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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