Understanding the Power of Natural Killer Cells and New Nonradioactive Assay Approaches

Natural killer (NK) cells first earned their title as “killers” nearly 40 years ago when researchers observed the rapid immune response of these lymphocytes as they destroyed host cells infected with a virus or tumor cells. It seemed that NK cells could attach spontaneously without prior activation. Over time, researchers have learned more about the molecular mechanisms that regulate their activation and function.

Today, the NK cell assay is used to support specialty immunotoxicology studies for safety assessment. At Covance, we work with clients that often ask us about performing a NK cell functional analysis and the role of standard immunophenotyping to enumerate cells. This article addresses these questions by providing a brief background on the innate immunity of NK cell biology and comparing assay methods. Continue reading