Natural Killer (NK) Cells from Killers to Regulators: Distinct Features Between Peripheral Blood and Decidual NK Cells


Angela Santoni, Department of Experimental Medicine, University “La Sapienza”, Viale Regina Elena, 324, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Natural killer (NK) cells are a key component of innate immunity, particularly crucial during the early phase of immune responses against certain viruses, parasites, and microbial pathogens. The role of NK cell during pregnancy has been vividly discussed over the past years and it is now becoming increasingly clear that NK cells control pregnancy maintenance at several levels. In normal pregnancy, it appears that they provide benefit by properly secreting cytokines, chemokines and angiogenic factors rather than functioning as cytotoxic effector cells. However, as they are endowed with all the cytolytic weapons, they promptly become capable of attacking fetal and maternal tissues during infection and inflammation.