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Expert Rev Hematol. 2016 Dec;9(12):1119-1127. Epub 2016 Nov 11.

Role of natural killer cells in antibacterial immunity.

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a Division for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology , Johann Wolfgang Goethe University , Frankfurt , Germany.
b Division for Stem Cell Transplantation and Immunology, Laboratory for Cellular Immunology , Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University , Frankfurt , Germany.
c LOEWE Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Cellular Immunology , Johann Wolfgang Goethe University , Frankfurt , Germany.


Bacteria are a significant cause of infectious complications, in particular in immunocompromised patients. There is an increasing understanding that Natural Killer (NK) cells not only exhibit direct activity against bacteria, but also exert indirect antibacterial activity through interaction with other immune cells via cytokines and interferons. Areas covered: This review seeks to give a global overview of in vitro and in vivo data how NK cells interact with bacteria. In this regard, the review describes how NK cells directly damage and kill bacteria by soluble factors such as perforin, the impact of NK cells on other arms of the immune system, as well as how bacteria may inhibit NK cell activities. Expert commentary: A better characterization of the antibacterial effects of NK cells is urgently needed. With a better understanding of the interaction of NK cells and bacteria, NK cells may become a promising tool to prevent or to combat bacterial infections, e.g. by adoptively transferring NK cells to immunocompromised patients.


Natural killer cells; bacteria; host response; immunity; infection

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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