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BioLegend’s NK/NKT Webpage

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Natural Killer (NK) cells, as their name suggests, have an uncanny cytolytic ability and survey the body for virus-infected cells or tumor cells. Natural Killer T cells are a special hybrid of NK and T cells, providing Th1 or Th2-related cytokines as the situation dictates. Learn more about each cell type, their mechanisms of action, and development with our handy webpage.

Natural Killer (NK) cells were initially named based on the observation that they had cytolytic function in the absence of any specific kind of immunization. NK cells can release a bounty of cytokines and chemokines, including TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-3, IL-10, GM-CSF, G-CSF, CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CCL5, XCL1, and CXCL8. Type I IFNs, IL-2, IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18 are all potent activators of NK cells. NK cells are a vital arm of innate immunity and participate in surveillance against viral-infection and tumor cells.

View our: Innate Immunity Pathways

Originating from the thymus, NKT (Natural Killer T) cells represent a combination of T cell and NK cell attributes/markers. They express a T cell receptor (TCR) complex and several NK cell markers. The ability of these cells to produce Th1 and Th2-related cytokines has implicated them in several fields, including transplantation, tumors, autoimmunity, and allergy.