Despite early reports that natural killer (NK) cells are non-specific or have non-major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-restricted killing, it is now clear that NK cells express a panoply of receptors with defined specificity for ligands expressed on their cellular targets. The roles of these receptors in terms of physiological NK cell effector functions, such as cytotoxicity and cytokine production, are beginning to be unravelled. In as much as NK cells accumulate in the uterus, an appreciation of NK cell receptor specificities and their physiological functions should provide valuable clues to the role of NK cells in the uterus and during pregnancy.
- Major histocompatibility complex
- NK cell receptors
- Selective expression