UNIT 7.34 Isolation and Characterization of Human Natural Killer Cell Subsets

  1. Megan A. Cooper,
  2. Michael A. Caligiuri

Published Online: 1 MAY 2004

DOI: 10.1002/0471142735.im0734s60

Current Protocols in Immunology

Current Protocols in Immunology

How to Cite

Cooper, M. A. and Caligiuri, M. A. 2004. Isolation and Characterization of Human Natural Killer Cell Subsets. Current Protocols in Immunology. 60:IV:7.34:7.34.1–7.34.12.

Author Information

  1. The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, Ohio

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 MAY 2004
  2. Published Print: APR 2004


Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune lymphocytes that play a critical role in the host defense against pathogens through their production of cytokines and cytotoxic activity. Human NK cells can be divided into two subsets, each with distinct phenotypic and functional properties, based on cell-surface density expression of CD56 (CD56bright and CD56dim). This unit describes the purification of human NK cell subsets from blood, protocols for the further characterization of NK cell function, and further background information on these cell types.


  • lymphocyte;
  • human natural killer (NK) cell;
  • CD56;
  • innate immunity