Before now, Cytotoxic cells have been deemed as non-antigen-specific meaning that they do not posses memory and therefore are unable to recognize specific pathogens but instead, they simply attack antigens generally. Recently, cytotoxic Natural Killer (NK) cells were described to have memory function by Immunologists making one third of these group of cells found in the liver as a potential therapeutic target. The conclusion was that NK cells found in the liver are capable of recalling viral pathogens and responding specifically to them. In this way, they create an entirely new therapeutic target as prophylaxis in the fight against viral infections.
NK cells are cytotoxic cells belonging to a group of human blood immune cells called lymphocytes which are a subgroup of white blood cells or leukocytes. These cells are capable of killing tumor cells or cells infected by viruses. Natural Killer cells have previously been described as lacking memory function, incapable of being antigen specific but rather act on pathogens generally and are non-specific.
A new study elicited a sub group of NK cells found in the liver, the liver is known to host NK cells, this makes fighting viruses that cause hepatitis A and B more easy, invariably increasing their familiarity with the said viruses. It was also discovered that these group of NK cells exhibit a unique gene profile that is entirely different from other NK cell groups.