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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Natural killer cell memory in infection, inflammation and cancer.

  • Author(s): Cerwenka, Adelheid
  • Lanier, Lewis L
  • et al.

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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