NK cells play an important role in host immunity against cancer by exerting cytotoxicity and secreting a wide variety of cytokines to inhibit tumour progression. Their effector functions are regulated by the integration of opposing signals from activating and inhibitory receptors, which determine NK cell activity against tumour targets. NK cell cytotoxicity requires successful progression through discrete activation events that begin with NK cell adhesion to a tumour target cell and culminate in the polarized release of cytotoxic granules into the immunological synapse. Tumour cells can evade NK cell attack through numerous mechanisms such as shedding of activating ligands, upregulation of inhibitory ligands, or stimulation of inhibitory regulatory T lymphocytes. A better understanding of specific NK cell responses to tumour targets can generate better NK cell‐based immunotherapeutic strategies for cancer. This chapter discusses NK cell immunosurveillance of cancer, NK cell tumour recognition strategies, cancer immune evasion from NK cells, and different approaches to NK cell modulation for cancer therapy.
Part of the book: Natural Killer Cells