natural killer cell

noun

: a large granular lymphocyte capable especially of destroying tumor cells or virally-infected cells without prior exposure to the target cell and without having it presented with or marked by a histocompatibility antigen

called also NK cell

Examples of natural killer cell in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Starting in the 1980s, for example, researchers discovered that a type of leukocyte called a natural killer cell is abundant on the uterine side of the maternal-fetal interface. Adrian Erlebacher, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2017 Exercise as a family Research shows that exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in adults—and regular activity can benefit kids in the same way, says Ranjit Chandra, M.D., a pediatric immunologist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Sandra Gordon, Parents, 28 June 2023 Presumably uterine natural killer cells produce substances that promote the loss of the original maternal cells that line the arteries, thus facilitating the subsequent takeover of these vessels by placental cells. Adrian Erlebacher, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2017 And our immune system is built out of a huge array, a big zoo of different cell types: natural killer cells and T-cells and B-cells and all of those different cell types that are interacting with each other. Steven Strogatz, Quanta Magazine, 8 Mar. 2023 These included but were not limited to perturbations of the 2-5A synthetase/RNase L antiviral pathway, low natural killer cell cytotoxicity (as measured by standard diagnostic assays), and elevated cytokines particularly interleukin-6 and interleukin-8. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 6 Jan. 2010 Fate is also discontinuing the development of its natural killer cell programs for acute myeloid leukemia, B-cell lymphoma and solid tumors. Natallie Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2023 Some of these therapies, such as natural killer cell programs, focus on equipping a patient’s own immune system to identify and destroy infected cells. Natallie Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2023 These alleles, of which several encode unique or strong ligands for natural killer cell receptors, now represent more than half the HLA alleles of modern Eurasians and also appear to have been later introduced into Africans. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 26 Aug. 2011

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'natural killer cell.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1975, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of natural killer cell was in 1975

Dictionary Entries Near natural killer cell

Cite this Entry

“Natural killer cell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/natural%20killer%20cell. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

natural killer cell

noun
: a large granular lymphocyte capable especially of destroying tumor cells or virally infected cells without prior exposure to the target cell and without having it presented with or marked by a histocompatibility antigen

called also NK cell

More from Merriam-Webster on natural killer cell

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!