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Review: Natural killer cells enhance the immune surveillance of cancer

Faisal Nouroz
Farzana Bibi
Shumaila Noreen
Nosheen Masood


Immune system (IS) is comprised of molecules, cells, tissues and organs involved in host defense mechanism from infectious agents or tumor cells. On crossing the cell barriers by these infectious agents, the defense mechanism is alerted by the immune system to respond against these invading microbes. Innate immune response (IIR) and acquired immune response (AIR) are working in parallel to control these invading microbes. IIR is composed of various types of phagocytes and lymphocytes, while AIR is comprised of T and B lymphocytes. All the cells of the immune system cooperatively work against infectious agents and cancerous cells but Natural killer (NK) cells are playing an important role to respond to tumor by enhancing the expression of complementary domain (CD86) on dendritic cells (DCs) and production of IL-12. NK cells demolished tumor through perforin and granzyme, which are important for immune surveillance and death of tumor cells induced by cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), Fas ligand (CD178), interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-10. These cytokines have inhibited proliferation of tumor by inducing antiangiogenic factors and maintaining cross talk with other immune cells. Natural products like transfer factor plus, immune modulator mix, ascorbic acid, Ganoderma lucidum, Agaricus blazei teas, nitrogenated soy extract, Andrographis paniculata and several phytochemicals enhanced the efficiency of NK cells in controlling cancers. Further studies will unravel the impact of NK cells in cancer control and how NK efficiency can be further enhanced.

Keywords: Immunity; Tumor; Natural killer cells; Cytokines; Dendritic cells

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eISSN: 1110-8630