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Function of Natural Killer cells

Function of Natural Killer cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of lymphocyte that have a defensive function in the body. Upon detecting cells infected by viruses or cancer cells, NK cells attack these cells and eliminate them.

In order to differentiate healthy cells from those they have to eliminate, NK cells have a recognition system through their activation and inhibition receptors (KIR):

Healthy cell
the KIR receptor binds to a class I molecule of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC-I) that is present on all healthy cells in the body. Thus, NK cells recognize them and do not attack them.
Infected cell
the KIR receptor does not bind to MHC-I and therefore attacks these cells to destroy them
By (gynecologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 05/06/2022