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Dissecting tissue-resident lymphocyte homeostasis in humans

Project description

Shedding light on tissue-resident natural killer cells

Natural killer (NK) cells are known for their role in anti-tumour immunity, their capacity to fight infections and their impact on pregnancy outcomes. Emerging evidence from mouse models underscores the presence of tissue-resident NK cells, but their maintenance and regulation remain poorly understood, especially in the human setting. The EU-funded RESIDE project aims to characterise subsets of human NK cells permanently residing in the human liver and uterus. Scientists will study the mechanism underlying the tissue residency and recirculation of these cells. Using a 3D microvasculature model, they will also identify the factors that regulate the activity of tissue-resident NK cells.


Natural killer (NK) cells contribute to tumor and antiviral immunity, regulate immune homeostasis, and impact on pregnancy success. These functions are in many instances performed in peripheral organs. Recent pioneering research in mouse models has revealed the existence and self-maintenance of tissue-resident (TR) NK cells. Although similar mechanisms are assumed to occur in humans, this has never been formally demonstrated and with our diverse infection history and active microbiota the human setting is considerably more complex. Me and my group have recently identified and characterized presumed TR NK cells in human liver and uterus. Here, we seek to challenge the prevailing concept from the mouse of how TR is formed, regulated, and maintained by taking advantage of world-unique surgical procedures for addressing lymphocyte tissue-residency, such as uterus transplantation and a novel liver surgery creating a human parabiosis situation, combined with single-cell technologies. In these settings, we will determine the detailed characteristics of subsets of NK cells permanently residing in tissues. With the different time windows as well as tissue sites presented by the clinical procedures, we will also assess kinetics of NK cell tissue repopulation. Furthermore, we aim to provide mechanistic insight into NK cell recirculation patterns by studying tissue-draining lymph fluid. Finally, we will study functional regulation of NK cell tissue-residency based on data from targeted single-cell RNAseq across multiple human tissues. The relevance of suspected and novel factors in regulating TR NK cells will be studied in a 3D microvasculature model combined with siRNA-based silencing of candidate genes. TR immune cells are poised to instantly deliver immune responses upon tumor and pathogen challenges while also being drivers of inflammation and autoimmunity in peripheral organs. Thus, this proposal has the potential to provide ground-breaking new knowledge in these areas.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 498 972,00
Nobels Vag 5
17177 Stockholm

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Östra Sverige Stockholm Stockholms län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 498 972,00

Beneficiaries (1)