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Immune System

Natural killer cells have a memory


Research teams at LMU Munich and Bonn University have decoded an autoimmune mechanism that enables so-called natural killer cells to attack chemically modified skin cells, and reveals that these immune cells exhibit immunological memory.

hornung_260_webVeit Hornung,  Chair of Immunobiochemistry, and researchers at the University of Bonn have uncovered a new mechanism which triggers the immune system to specifically attack pigmented cells in the skin. It was previously believed that, unlike B- and T- cells, so-called natural killer cells do not exhibit immunological memory for the body's own tissues. However, the new work shows that these specialized immune cells can indeed “remember” pigmented cells when they come into more frequent contact with a specific contact allergen. 

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Original Publication:

Inflammasome-Dependent Induction of Adaptive NK Cell Memory.
van den Boorn JG, Jakobs C, Hagen C, Renn M, Luiten RM, Melief CJ, Tüting T, Garbi N, Hartmann G, Hornung V.
Immunity. 2016 Jun 21;44(6):1406-21. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.05.008. Epub 2016 Jun 7. PubMed