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Trends Mol Med. 2016 Jul;22(7):565-577. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2016.05.007. Epub 2016 Jun 1.

Exercise-Dependent Regulation of NK Cells in Cancer Protection.

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Centre for Cancer Immune Therapy, Department of Hematology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark.
Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism and Centre for Physical Activity Research, Rigshospitalet, Faculty of Health Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:


Natural killer (NK) cells are the most responsive immune cells to exercise, displaying an acute mobilization to the circulation during physical exertion. Recently, exercise-dependent mobilization of NK cells was found to play a central role in exercise-mediated protection against cancer. Here, we review the link between exercise and NK cell function, focusing on circulating exercise factors and additional effects, including vascularization, hypoxia, and body temperature in mediating the effects on NK cell functionality. Exercise-dependent mobilization and activation of NK cells provides a mechanistic explanation for the protective effect of exercise on cancer, and we propose that exercise represents a potential strategy as adjuvant therapy in cancer, by improving NK cell recruitment and infiltration in solid tumors.


exercise oncology; immune response; natural killer cells; oncology; physical training; tumor

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