Natural killer (NK) cells are critical immune components in controlling tumor growth and dissemination. Given their innate capacity to eliminate tumor cells without prior sensitization, NK-based therapies for cancer are actively pursued pre-clinically and clinically. However, recent data suggest that tumors could induce functional alterations in NK cells, polarizing them to tumor-promoting phenotypes. The potential functional plasticity of NK cells in the context of tumors could lead to undesirable outcomes of NK-cell based therapies. In this review, we will summarize to-date evidence of tumor-associated NK cell plasticity and provide our insights for future investigations and therapy development.
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