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.
- conventional natural killer cells
- tissue-resident natural killer cells
- uterine natural killer cells