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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


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
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalImmunological Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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