Natural Killer (NK) Cells & Canine Osteosarcoma
Part of the innate immune system, Natural Killer cells are lymphocytes with no immunological memory. They are the most aggressive immune system guardians and make up about 5 – 10% of the circulating lymphocyte population.
NK cells are called natural killers because they do not need to recognize a specific antigen before releasing their toxins to destroy a viral infected, or cancer, cell. They target tumor cells, protecting against a wide variety of infectious microbes.
Killing on contact, the NK cell binds to its target, aims its “weapons” to deliver a lethal burst of toxins creating holes in the target cell’s membrane, initiating events that destroy the cancer cell membrane and shatter the DNA in a programmed cell death called apoptosis.
After releasing its lethal bundle of chemicals, the NK cell can detach from the cancer cell to continue on to kill many other abnormal cells. In fact, most of the tumor cells, entering the body’s circulation, are destroyed during the first twenty-four hours. Only a few cells succeed in establishing themselves in distant organs from the primary tumor in a processes called metastasis.
Natural Killer cells also contribute to immunoregulation by secreting high levels of lymphokines.
In several immunodeficiency diseases, such as cancer and AIDs, natural killer cell function is abnormal, allowing viruses to multiply inside a dog’s cells. This is why natural products, like Beta Glucan and Avemar, that stimulate Natural Killer cell activity are so valuable for dogs with osteosarcoma or any viral disease, of which there are many. Immuno-enhancing nutrients are especially important in those dogs undergoing chemotherapy where immunosuppression occurs.
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Filed under: K9 OSA Immune Supplements
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