Regulatory functions of natural killer cells in multiple sclerosis

Catharina C. Gross, Andreas Schulte-Mecklenbeck, Heinz Wiendl, Emanuela Marcenaro, Nicole Kerlero de Rosbo, Antonio Uccelli, Alice Laroni

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


There is increasing evidence that natural killer (NK) cells exhibit regulatory features. Among them, CD56bright NK cells have been suggested to play a major role in controlling T cell responses and maintaining homeostasis. Dysfunction in NK cell-mediated regulatory features has been recently described in untreated multiple sclerosis (MS), suggesting a contribution to MS pathogenesis. Moreover, biological disease-modifying treatments effective in MS apparently enhance the frequencies and/or regulatory function of NK cells, further pointing toward an immunoprotective role of NK cells in MS. Here, we summarize the current knowledge on the regulatory functions of NK cells, based on their interactions with other cells belonging to the innate compartment, as well as with adaptive effector cells. We review the more recent data reporting disruption of NK cell/T cell interactions in MS and discuss how disease-modifying treatments for MS affect NK cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number606
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016


  • CD56 NK cells
  • Innate immune system
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Natural killer cells
  • Regulatory immune cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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