The Impact of Immunodeficiency on NK Cell Maturation and Function

  • Alexander Vargas-Hernández
  • Lisa R. ForbesEmail author
Immune Deficiency and Dysregulation (Caroline Kuo, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Immune Deficiency and Dysregulation


Purpose of Review

Natural killer cells are innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) that play critical roles in human host defense and are especially useful in combating viral pathogens and malignancy.

Recent Findings

The NK cell deficiency (NKD) is particularly underscored in patients with a congenital immunodeficiency in which NK cell development or function is affected. The classical NK cell deficiency (cNKD) is a result of absent or a profound decrease in the number of circulating NK cells. In contrast, functional NKD (fNKD) is characterized by abnormal NK cell function but with normal number of NK cells. The combined immune deficiencies with significant impact on NK cells are not considered classical or functional NK cell deficiencies. In these disorders, the impairment of NK cells represents an important aspect of the overall immunodeficiency. In turn, this leads to improved insights on the NK cell development and function.


Here, we detail the NK cell biology based upon recent natural killer cell defects described in combined immune deficiencies.


Natural killer cells NK cell deficiency 



We acknowledge Dr. Emily Mace, for her critical review of the manuscript.


Chao Physician Scientist Junior Faculty Award, Baylor College of Medicine

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Vargas-Hernández
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisa R. Forbes
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Immunology Allergy and RheumatologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Human Immunobiology, William T Shearer Center for Human ImmunobiologyTexas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA

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