Friends or foes? The knowns and unknowns of natural killer cell biology in COVID-19 and other coronaviruses in July 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 575,000 deaths worldwide as of mid-July 2020 and still continues globally unabated. Immune dysfunction and cytokine storm complicate the disease, which in turn leads to the question of whether stimulation or suppression of the immune system would curb the disease. Given the varied antiviral and regulatory functions of natural killer (NK) cells, they could be potent and powerful immune allies in this global fight against COVID-19. Unfortunately, there is somewhat limited knowledge of the role of NK cells in SARS-CoV-2 infections and even in the related SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV infections. Several NK cell therapeutic options already exist in the treatment of tumor and other viral diseases and could be repurposed against COVID-19. In this review, we describe the current understanding and potential roles of NK cells and other Fc receptor (FcR) effector cells in SARS-CoV-2 infection, advantages of using animals to model COVID-19, and NK cell-based therapeutics that are being investigated for COVID-19 therapy.
Manickam, C; Sugawara, S; Reeves, RK
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