Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 118 (11) e2016580118 [2021-03-16; online 2021-04-11]
Human adaptive-like "memory" CD56dimCD16+ natural killer (NK) cells in peripheral blood from cytomegalovirus-seropositive individuals have been extensively investigated in recent years and are currently explored as a treatment strategy for hematological cancers. However, treatment of solid tumors remains limited due to insufficient NK cell tumor infiltration, and it is unknown whether large expansions of adaptive-like NK cells that are equipped for tissue residency and tumor homing exist in peripheral tissues. Here, we show that human lung and blood contains adaptive-like CD56brightCD16- NK cells with hallmarks of tissue residency, including expression of CD49a. Expansions of adaptive-like lung tissue-resident NK (trNK) cells were found to be present independently of adaptive-like CD56dimCD16+ NK cells and to be hyperresponsive toward target cells. Together, our data demonstrate that phenotypically, functionally, and developmentally distinct subsets of adaptive-like NK cells exist in human lung and blood. Given their tissue-related character and hyperresponsiveness, human lung adaptive-like trNK cells might represent a suitable alternative for therapies targeting solid tumors.