In recent years, the relevance of the immune system to fight cancer has led to the development of immunotherapy, including the adoptive cell transfer of immune cells, such as natural killer (NK) cells and chimeric antigen receptors (CAR)-modified T cells. The discovery of donor NK cells’ anti-tumor activity in acute myeloid leukemia patients receiving allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) was the trigger to conduct many clinical trials infusing NK cells. Surprisingly, many of these studies did not obtain optimal results, suggesting that many different NK cell parameters combined with the best clinical protocol need to be optimized. Various parameters including the high array of activating receptors that NK cells have, the source of NK cells selected to treat patients, different cytotoxic mechanisms that NK cells activate depending on the target cell and tumor cell survival mechanisms need to be considered before choosing the best immunotherapeutic strategy using NK cells. In this review, we will discuss these parameters to help improve current strategies using NK cells in cancer therapy. Moreover, the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modification, which has revolutionized the concept of immunotherapy, will be discussed in the context of NK cells. Lastly, the dark side of NK cells and their involvement in inflammation will also be discussed.
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