Immunologic Research

, Volume 58, Issue 2–3, pp 259–267 | Cite as

NK cells after transplantation: friend or foe

  • Uzi Hadad
  • Olivia Martinez
  • Sheri M. Krams


Natural killer (NK) cells are effector cells of the innate immune system that can lyse target cells without prior sensitization and have an important role in host defense to pathogens and transformed cells. A balance between negative and positive signals transmitted via germ line-encoded inhibitory and activating receptors controls the function of NK cells. Although the concept of “missing-self” would suggest that NK cells could target foreign allografts, the prevailing dogma has been that NK cells are not active participants in the mechanisms that culminate in the rejection of solid organ allografts. Recent studies, however, challenge this conclusion and instead implicate NK cells in contributing to both graft rejection and tolerance to an allograft. In this review, we highlight recent studies with the goal of understanding the complex NK cell interactions that impact alloimmunity.


NK cells Transplantation Allograft Rejection Tolerance 



This work was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health Grants AI084939, AI044095, and AI104230; The Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and Infection Interdisciplinary Research Program Award; and The Transplantation Society International Basic Science Research Exchange Fellowship.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Abdominal Transplantation, Department of Surgery and Stanford ImmunologyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.The Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeershebaIsrael

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