Things You Must Know about NK Cells
Natural killer cells or NK cells are cytotoxic lymphocytes vital to the functioning of the innate immune system or the inborn immunity of organisms. They are toxic agents that play a role correspondent to the function of cytotoxic T-cells. This means that they kill cells that have been infected. They are known to rapidly respond to virus-infected cells, typically acting within approximately 3 days upon infection. Natural killer cells also fight unhealthy cell formation. These cells are called as such because they don’t need activation to be able to kill cells that lack “self” markers of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class 1
Benefits of NK Cells
Natural killer cells are different from white blood cells, arguably the more important infection-fighting component of the immune system, because they are capable of recognizing stressed cells in the absence of antibodies and MHC which enables faster immune reaction. It also allows the body to address threats posed by harmful cells that don’t have MHC I markers and are not detected and killed by the usual immune cells such as T lymphocytes. NK cells mature and differentiate in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, thymus, tonsils, and spleen before they get circulate through the body.
Support Your NK Cells Naturally
In trying to boost your immunity, it also helps to consider taking in food or supplements that can contribute to enhancing the activity of NK cells. It is advisable to consume food products that are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium. Likewise, it’s worth trying recently discovered NK cell activity boosting products like the extract (in the form of supplements) from the mushroom Agaricus blazei Murill. A study conducted by researchers from The Catholic University of Korea found that natural killer cell activity was enhanced among cancer patients under chemotherapy when they were made to consume the Agaricus blazei mushroom extract.
Contrary to how their name sounds, natural killer cells are beneficial to the body and should be enhanced along with the rest of the immune system. It would be good to understand them better to help boost their functioning, thereby improving the rest of the body’s protection from various health threats.
Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2004 Jul-Aug;14(4):589-94.