27 Scopus citations


Our knowledge of NK cells and their critical role in the innate immune system has increased enormously since their discovery several decades ago. However, it is only within the last 10 years that rational cytokine therapies, such as those utilizing low doses of IL-2, have been successful in expanding NK cells in patients with cancer and/or immunodeficiency. Such experiences in vivo have highlighted the importance of basing immunotherapeutic strategies on the known cellular and molecular properties of the targeted cell population. Recent advances in our understanding of the physiologic factors and events that orchestrate NK cell ontogeny, including IL-15 and receptor tyrosine kinase ligands to c-kit and flt3, provide novel therapeutic possibilities for cytokine therapy. This review summarizes our current understanding of human NK cell ontogeny, and links this knowledge to ongoing and future clinical strategies for the endogenous expansion of NK cells in patients with cancer and/or immunodeficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-536
Number of pages34
JournalInternational Reviews of Immunology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cytokine therapy
  • Human
  • In vivo expansion
  • Interleukin-2
  • NK cell


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