About this Research Topic
Over the past decade, we have come to appreciate the significant diversity of tissue-resident NK cells, their subsets and distinct immunological functions, and tissue residency. We have gained significant knowledge regarding the master regulators driving tissue-resident NK cells, their immune phenotypes as well as their unique effector functions. Further, NK cells have been demonstrated to mediate immunological memory to a variety of infectious stimuli in multiple species. Immunological memory to altered self, viral or bacterial infections has been demonstrated in mice, non-human primates, and humans as well as in lower species such as fish. In addition, memory-like NK cells have been generated for clinical applications that have opened the door for novel treatments for viral infections and malignancy. This knowledge has fueled a newfound interest in using NK cells for the prevention and treatment of human disease.
However, several important questions remain: (i) how diverse are tissue-specific NK cell subsets within the body or within a specific tissue? (ii) What is the plasticity of such tissue-specific NK cell phenotypes? (iii) How do tissue-specific NK cell subsets differ in their ability to protect the host from disease? (iv) Is there a difference between their functions during a primary and subsequent challenge, and (v) how can they be exploited for the treatment of human diseases?
In this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of Original Research, Review, and Opinion articles that feature recent advances in our understanding of how tissue-resident NK cells remember prior stimuli, contribute to host defense, and how we can therapeutically exploit subsets of NK cells for improved host protection from disease.
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