Natural Killer Cell Immunosenescence and Cancer in the Elderly

  • Beatriz Sánchez-Correa
  • Carmen Campos
  • Alejandra Pera
  • Soledad Sánchez Mateos
  • Sara Morgado
  • Raquel TarazonaEmail author
  • Rafael Solana


Ageing is associated with changes in the immune system that may affect both innate and adaptive immune responses. Well-preserved natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity has been considered as a biomarker of healthy ageing and longevity, whereas low NK cytotoxicity is a predictor of morbidity and mortality due to infections. Remodeling of the NK cell compartment occurs in the elderly, probably reflecting the reduction in the output of the immature CD56bright cells and an accumulation of highly differentiated CD56dim CD57+ NK cells. NK cells in the elderly show phenotypic and functional changes as diminished expression of several activating NK cell receptors or decreased proliferative response to cytokines. Age-associated immune deterioration has been recently considered an additional cause for the high incidence of cancer in the elderly since the immune response against tumors goes down with age. Thus, age-associated alterations in NK cell function may constitute a new biomarker associated to the increased incidence of cancer in the elderly.


Natural Killer Natural Killer Cell Acute Myeloid Leukemia Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity 
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.



We apologize to our colleagues whose work was not cited due to space limitations. This work was supported by grants PS09/00723 (to R.S.) from Spanish Ministry of Health and SAF2009-09711 from the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain and PRI09A029 (to RT) and grants to INPATT research group from Junta de Extremadura (GRU10104) and from University of Extremadura, cofinanced by European Regional Development Fund (FEDER).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beatriz Sánchez-Correa
    • 1
  • Carmen Campos
    • 2
  • Alejandra Pera
    • 2
  • Soledad Sánchez Mateos
    • 1
  • Sara Morgado
    • 1
  • Raquel Tarazona
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rafael Solana
    • 2
  1. 1.Immunology Unit, Department of PhysiologyUniversity of ExtremaduraCáceresSpain
  2. 2.Department of ImmunologyIMIBIC – Reina Sofia University Hospital – University of CordobaCordobaSpain

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