Natural killer cells are innate cytotoxic effector cells with important roles in viral infections and malignancies. During the course of an immune response, NK cells are involved in intense crosstalk with innate myeloid immune cells, such as neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. NK cells take part in shaping the immune response, both by releasing cytokines and by selectively killing cells. Thus, NK cells are believed to selectively kill dendritic cells that fail to mature into efficacious antigen-presenting cells; NK cells have also been proposed to accelerate the termination of the inflammatory response by triggering neutrophil apoptosis.
Given the intimate relationship between NK cells and myeloid cells in immunity, it is not surprising that NK cells seem to be particularly important in the defense against myeloid malignancies. Thus, deficient NK cell function at diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia is associated with poor overall survival, and in chronic myeloid leukemia, studies suggest that intact NK cell function predicts a favorable outcome in patients discontinuing with imatinib therapy.
The Thorén lab focuses on the following research topics:
- The importance of different NK cell subsets and/or receptors in AML immunotherapy
- The ability of NK cells to eliminate minimal residual disease in chronic myeloid leukemia
- The regulation of neutrophil expression of NK cell receptor ligands
- The role of NK cells in terminating inflammatory responses
- The role of NK – neutrophil interactions for development of adaptive immune responses
Fredrik B. Thorén, Ass. Prof
Karin Christenson, Post doc
Frida Ewald, Post doc
Rebecca Riise, MSc, PhD student
Olle Werlenius, MD, PhD student
Elin Bernson, MSc, PhD student
Oscar Wilsson, MD
Magnus Hessel, MD student