NK Cells and Cancer Immunoediting

  • Camille Guillerey
  • Mark J. SmythEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 395)


Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells (ILC) known for their ability to recognize and rapidly eliminate infected or transformed cells. Consequently, NK cells are fundamental for host protection against virus infections and malignancies. Even though the critical role of NK cells in cancer immunosurveillance was suspected years ago, the underlying mechanisms took time to be unraveled. Today, it is clear that anti-tumor functions of NK cells are tightly regulated and expand far beyond the simple killing of malignant cells. In spite of tremendous steps made in understanding the NK cell biology, further work is warranted to fully exploit the anticancer potential of these cells. Indeed, tumor-mediated immune suppression hampers NK cell activity, thus complicating their stimulation for therapeutic purposes. Herein, we review the current knowledge of NK cell functions in anti-tumor immunity . We discuss NK cell activity in the cancer immunoediting process with particular emphasis on the elimination and escape phases.


Natural Killer Natural Killer Cell Natural Killer Cell Activity Natural Killer Cell Function Natural Killer Cell Subset 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



M.J.S. is supported by a NH&MRC Australia Fellowship (628623) and Program Grant (1013667).


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Immunology in Cancer and Infection LaboratoryQIMR Berghofer Medical Research InstituteHerstonAustralia
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandHerstonAustralia

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