Natural Killer Cell

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Natural Killer (or NK) cells are large cells which develop in the bone marrow, and are involved in the innate immune system. They contain granules in their cytoplasm, which attach to the target cells (ones which have been infected by a virus, or are cancer cells). They then cause pores to form in the membrane and apoptosis occurs. The effects of NK cells are similar to Cytotoxic T cells, but do not require the presence of antibodies to have an effect[1][2].


  1. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. Innate Immunity. Available from:
  2. Janeway CA Jr, Travers P, Walport M, et al. Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2001. Induced innate responses to infection. Available from:
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