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Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Target and Disable Natural Killer Cells: Core Immune Effectors for Fighting the Disease

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevImmunol.2020034441
pages 167-171

Anahid Jewett
Division of Oral Biology and Medicine, The Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA School of Dentistry and Medicine, Los Angeles, CA


KEY WORDS: natural killer cells, coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2

Abstract

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses a great public health challenge worldwide. While studies on the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on immune cell function continue to progress, we know very little about the significance of depletion of key immune effectors by the virus in the mortality and morbidity of the disease. This commentary reviews what is known thus far about the effects of the virus on natural killer (NK) cells, the major cell type responsible for the destruction and removal of virally infected cells. It also highlights the necessity of comprehensive studies of NK cells in COVID-19 patients and animal models to better understand the role and significance of reported NK depletion and functional inactivation in disease morbidity and mortality, in the hopes of designing effective therapeutic interventions for the disease.

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