Natural killer cell metabolism

Takumi Kobayashi, Stephen R. Mattarollo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Natural killer (NK) cells are a critical component in the innate immune response against disease. NK cell function is tightly regulated by specific cytokine and activation/inhibitory receptor signalling, leading to diverse effector responses. Like all living cells, energy metabolism is a fundamental requirement for NK cell activation and survival. There is growing evidence that distinct functional profiles of NK cells are determined by alterations to cellular metabolic pathways. In this review, we summarise current literature that has explored NK cell metabolism to provide insight into how metabolic regulation controls NK cell function. We focus on metabolism pathways induced by different NK cell stimuli, metabolic regulatory proteins, and nutrient and hormonal levels in health and disease which impact on NK cell metabolic and functional activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Cellular metabolism
  • Effector function
  • Hormones
  • Metabolic regulators
  • Metabolites
  • Natural killer cells
  • Nutrients
  • Obesity


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