Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fibrotic age-related chronic lung disease characterized by the accumulation of senescent cells. Whether impaired immune response is responsible for the accumulation of senescent cells in the IPF lung remains unknown. In this study, we characterized the NK phenotype in IPF lungs via flow cytometry using 5-dodecanoylaminofluorescein di-β-d-galactopyranoside, markers of tissue residence, and chemokine receptors. The effect of the lung microenvironment was evaluated using lung fibroblast (LF) conditioned media (CM), and the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis mouse model was used to assess the in vivo relationship between NK cells and the accumulation of senescent cells. We found that NK cells from the lower lobe of IPF patients exhibited immune-senescent and impaired CD57NKG2A+ phenotype. We also observed that culture of NK cells from healthy donors in CM from IPF lower lobe lung fibroblasts induced a senescent-like phenotype and impaired cytotoxic capacity. There is an impaired NK recruitment by LF, and NKs presented decreased migration toward their CM. In addition, NK cell–depleted mice treated with bleomycin showed increased collagen deposition and accumulation of different populations of senescent cells compared with controls. The IPF lung microenvironment induces a dysfunctional NK phenotype limiting the clearance of lung senescent cells and the resolution of lung fibrosis. We propose that impaired NK activity could be one of the mechanisms responsible for perpetuating the accumulation of senescent cells in IPF lungs.

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