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Trends Immunol. 2016 Mar;37(3):233-243. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Immune Adaptation to Environmental Influence: The Case of NK Cells and HCMV.

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Department of Tumor Immunology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany. Electronic address:
Science for Life Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 1031, 17121 Solna, Sweden. Electronic address:


The immune system of an individual human is determined by heritable traits and a continuous process of adaptation to a broad variety of extrinsic, non-heritable factors such as viruses, bacteria, dietary components and more. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) successfully infects the majority of the human population and establishes latency, thereby exerting a life-long influence on the immune system of its host. CMV has been shown to influence the majority of immune parameters in healthy individuals. Here we focus on adaptive changes induced by CMV in subsets of Natural Killer (NK) cells, changes that question our very definition of adaptive and innate immunity by suggesting that adaptations of immune cells to environmental influences occur across the entire human immune system and not restricted to the classical adaptive branch of the immune system.


CD57; CMV; NK cell memory; NKG2C; adaptive NK cells

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