The prospect of innate immune memory is a developing interest that has been shown to link innate and adaptive cell sets by epigenetic responses. Natural Killer cells have been a particular focus of this research because they were once considered innate and non-adaptive. Recently there is an emerging body of evidence that suggests otherwise. Whether NK cell memory arises and which NK cells participate in its establishment is not established science. Without more research whether and to what extent very narrow NK cell protein expressions distinguish cell and tissue lineages will continue unanswered. However, some good research supports the important idea of NK memory and conserved lineage.
A study on the heterogeneity of NK cells, by transcriptome in human bone marrow identified distinct NK populations, including one expressing higher levels of immediate, early genes indicative of a homeostatic activation. Analysis identified a transitional population between CD56bright and CD56dim NK cells. Most interesting they reported on a donor with GATA2-T354M mutation who exhibited a reduced percentage of CD56bright NK cells with altered transcriptome and elevated cell death indicating the smaller number of CD56bright NK cells were contributing to the donors disease progression.
In a mouse model of CMV infection, a specific population of NK cells expands, contracts after control of the virus and generates long-lived “memory” NK cells that are more protective during a second encounter. Other reports indicate antigen specificity and antibody dependent NK mediated cytotoxicity in autoimmune disease by a sub-population of NK cells expressing a combination of specific receptors that was associated with apoptosis and the depletion of IgG in individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease.
|Coronavirus Lung Cells|
A four year experiment tracked bar-coded NK cells introduced to rhesus macaque's. The results indicated that during homeostasis and moderate proliferative stress, peripheral, compartmentalized, self-renewal can maintain the composition of distinct, differentiated NK cell sub-populations.
Blunted categorizations of NK receptor expressions may be a sub-set limitation, but the good news is that more recent research is defining NK cells in increasingly diverse ways. We are also learning to identify diseases that infect NK cells including influenza, that induces apoptosis, HIV, Hepatitis c and Epstein Bar. A study found peptide specific recognition of human cytomegalovirus strains control expansion of adaptive NK cells. Another Covid19 study compared the transcriptome in lung tissues of older patients, including NK cells and concluded that genes induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection tend to increase in expression with aging, and vice versa.