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Trends Immunol. 2013 Dec;34(12):573-82. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Location and cellular stages of natural killer cell development.

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Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA; Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, OH 43210, USA; James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Electronic address:


The identification of distinct tissue-specific natural killer (NK) cell populations that apparently mature from local precursor populations has brought new insight into the diversity and developmental regulation of this important lymphoid subset. NK cells provide a necessary link between the early (innate) and late (adaptive) immune responses to infection. Gaining a better understanding of the processes that govern NK cell development should allow us to harness better NK cell functions in multiple clinical settings, as well as to gain further insight into how these cells undergo malignant transformation. In this review, we summarize recent advances in understanding sites and cellular stages of NK cell development in humans and mice.


NK development; hematopoiesis; innate lymphoid cell; lymphopoiesis; natural killer; stages of maturation

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