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Copyright © 2006 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings - page 13 / 62

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Natural Killer (NK) Cells

  • Can lyse and kill cancer cells and virus-infected cells before the adaptive immune system is activated

  • Are a small, distinct group of large granular lymphocytes

  • Broad range killers: detect “non-self” cell surface proteins

  • Kill their target cells by releasing perforins and other cytolytic chemicals that result in apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the target cell

  • Secrete potent chemicals that enhance the inflammatory response

Copyright © 2006 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings

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