Bracing NK cell based therapy to relegate pulmonary inflammation in COVID-19

Madhan Jeyaraman, Sathish Muthu, Asawari Bapat, Rashmi Jain, E. S. Sushmitha, Arun Gulati, Talagavadi Channaiah Anudeep, Shirodkar Jaswandi Dilip, Niraj Kumar Jha, Dhruv Kumar, Kavindra Kumar Kesari, Shreesh Ojha, Sunny Dholpuria, Gaurav Gupta, Harish Dureja, Dinesh Kumar Chellappan, Sachin Kumar Singh, Kamal Dua, Saurabh Kumar Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The contagiosity of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has startled mankind and has brought our lives to a standstill. The treatment focused mainly on repurposed immunomodulatory and antiviral agents along with the availability of a few vaccines for prophylaxis to vanquish COVID-19. This seemingly mandates a deeper understanding of the disease pathogenesis. This necessitates a plausible extrapolation of cell-based therapy to COVID-19 and is regarded equivalently significant. Recently, correlative pieces of clinical evidence reported a robust decline in lymphocyte count in severe COVID-19 patients that suggest dysregulated immune responses as a key element contributing to the pathophysiological alterations. The large granular lymphocytes also known as natural killer (NK) cells play a heterogeneous role in biological functioning wherein their frontline action defends the body against a wide array of infections and tumors. They prominently play a critical role in viral clearance and executing immuno-modulatory activities. Accumulated clinical evidence demonstrate a decrease in the number of NK cells in circulation with or without phenotypical exhaustion. These plausibly contribute to the progression of pulmonary inflammation in COVID-19 pneumonia and result in acute lung injury. In this review, we have outlined the present understanding of the immunological response of NK cells in COVID-19 infection. We have also discussed the possible use of these powerful biological cells as a therapeutic agent in view of preventing immunological harms of SARS-CoV-2 and the current challenges in advocating NK cell therapy for the same.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere07635
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Cytokines
  • Natural killer cells
  • Pulmonary inflammation
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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