During the course of pregnancy, the maternal-fetal interface is tightly regulated and undergoes dynamic changes that promote the successful development of the semi-allogeneic fetus. In response to embryo implantation, the uterus remodels with maternal immune cells occupying the maternal-fetal interface and uterine natural killer (uNK) cells becoming the most prominent leukocyte. Recently, uNK cells have been discovered to be heterogeneous, including conventional NK and tissue-resident NK cells. Here, we will review the recent advances in uNK cell biology and discuss their functional mechanisms which protect and nurture the growing fetus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1538
Number of pages8
JournalBirth Defects Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • conventional natural killer cells
  • pregnancy
  • tissue-resident natural killer cells
  • uterine natural killer cells


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