Immunobiology of natural killer cells and bone marrow transplantation: Merging of basic and preclinical studies

William J Murphy, Crystal Y. Koh, Arati Raziuddin, Michael Bennett, Dan L. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Natural killer (NK) cells mediate acute rejection of bone marrow, but not solid tissue, allografts in lethally irradiated mice. Precisely how and why this rejection occurs is still unclear. In allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT), a spectrum of results is possible; one result can be marrow graft failure due to host rejection of the graft by NK and T cells and, at the opposite spectrum, the occurrence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Donor NK cells, however, appear capable of improving donor engraftment without giving rise to GVHD and thus may be of use as an immunotherapy following BMT. As NK-cell inhibitory receptors play a role in bone marrow cell rejection, these same inhibitory receptors may also affect NK responses towards tumor cells. It has been demonstrated that blocking the interaction of inhibitory receptors with MHC determinants on tumor cells can result in greater antitumor effects. Thus, NK cells are capable of mediating both positive and negative effects during BMT depending on whether they are of host versus donor origin and their state of activation. Understanding their role in BMT provides insights as to their physiological roles and points the way to potential clinical uses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalImmunological Reviews
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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