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Nat Rev Immunol. 2016 Feb;16(2):112-23. doi: 10.1038/nri.2015.9. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Natural killer cell memory in infection, inflammation and cancer.

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Innate Immunity Group, German Cancer Research Center/D080, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Immunological memory can be defined as a quantitatively and qualitatively enhanced immune response upon rechallenge. For natural killer (NK) cells, two main types of memory exist. First, similarly to T cells and B cells, NK cells can exert immunological memory after encounters with stimuli such as haptens or viruses, resulting in the generation of antigen-specific memory NK cells. Second, NK cells can remember inflammatory cytokine milieus that imprint long-lasting non-antigen-specific NK cell effector function. The basic concepts derived from studying NK cell memory provide new insights about innate immunity and could lead to novel strategies to improve treatments for infectious diseases and cancer.

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