Uncovering Human Memory NK Cells

news October 16 2019

Natural Killer (NK) cells drive the innate immune response by recognizing non-self or missing self from pathogens. However, mounting evidence suggests that differences between the adaptive and innate immune responses may not be so clear cut. With the help of over a dozen BioLegend antibodies and recombinant proteins, Nikzad et al. discovered the presence of human NK cells that are able to mount an adaptive, antigen-specific immune response.

Using a humanized mouse model, they discovered that hepatic NK cells vaccinated with an HIV envelope protein selectively killed HIV Env-loaded target cells. They also found the presence of memory NK cells in adult subjects upon a second exposure to the chicken pox virus. Together, they demonstrated these memory NK cells are vaccination-dependent, antigen-specific and long-lived; all key hallmarks of an adaptive immune response.