Natural killer cell distribution and trafficking in human tissues

Paolo Carrega, Guido Ferlazzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few data are available regarding the recirculation of natural killer (NK) cells among human organs. Earlier studies have been often impaired by the use of markers then proved to be either not sufficiently specific for NK cells (e.g., CD57, CD56) or expressed only by subsets of NK cells (e.g., CD16). At the present, available data confirmed that human NK cells populate blood, lymphoid organs, lung, liver, uterus (during pregnancy), and gut. Several studies showed that NK cell homing appears to be subset-specific, as secondary lbyrimghpt hoid onregga/dnusll and probably several solid tissues are preferentially inhabited by CD56bright CD16neg/dul non-cytotoxic NK cells. Similar studies performed in the mouse mduolldel showed that lymph node and bone marrow ardeullpreferentially populated by CD11bnull NK cells while blood, spleen, and lung by CD27null NK cells. Therefore, an important topic to be addressed in the human system is the contribution of factors that regulate NK cell tissue homing and egress, such as chemotactic receptors or homeostatic mechanisms. Here, we review the current knowledge on NK cell distribution in peripheral tissues and, based on recent acquisitions, we propose our view regarding the recirculation of NK cells in the human body.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberArticle 347
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Cell migration
  • Chemokine receptors
  • Humans
  • Natural killer cells
  • Tissue distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Natural killer cell distribution and trafficking in human tissues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this