Natural killer Cells, Viruses and Cancer
Introduction to Natural Killer cells:
Natural Killer cells was discovered in the year 1970. It is a type cytotoxic lymphocyte that represents major part of innate immune system and is specialized to kill certain types of target cells, especially those that became infected with virus or have become cancerous. NK cells are produced in response to infections by healthy bodies. They are self-activated and play an important role in elimination of tumors and virus-affected cells. These NK cells release proteins called perforins and granzyme, a cytoplasmic granule, which destroys the target cell by apoptosis.
Natural Killer Cells are also defined as large granular lymphocytes (LGL) and comprise the third kind of cells other than B and T Lymphocytes. They usually express surface marker CD16, CD56, and CD8 (only 80% of NK cell) in human.
They are termed as natural killers cells because of the fact that they do not require activation to kill cells with missing “Self” markers of MHC class l.
Importance of Natural killers cells:
Natural killer cells are derived from Pluripotent Hematopoietic stem cells and are considered as important cells of the immune system. They perform two main functions:
- Cytolytic activity
- Cytokine producing capacity
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