Fasting reshapes tissue-specific niches to improve NK cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity

Rebecca B. Delconte, Mark Owyong, Endi K. Santosa, Katja Srpan, Sam Sheppard, Tomi J. McGuire, Aamna Abbasi, Carlos Diaz-Salazar, Jerold Chun, Inez Rogatsky, Katharine C. Hsu, Stefan Jordan, Miriam Merad, Joseph C. Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fasting is associated with improved outcomes in cancer. Here, we investigated the impact of fasting on natural killer (NK) cell anti-tumor immunity. Cyclic fasting improved immunity against solid and metastatic tumors in an NK cell-dependent manner. During fasting, NK cells underwent redistribution from peripheral tissues to the bone marrow (BM). In humans, fasting also reduced circulating NK cell numbers. NK cells in the spleen of fasted mice were metabolically rewired by elevated concentrations of fatty acids and glucocorticoids, augmenting fatty acid metabolism via increased expression of the enzyme CPT1A, and Cpt1a deletion impaired NK cell survival and function in this setting. In parallel, redistribution of NK cells to the BM during fasting required the trafficking mediators S1PR5 and CXCR4. These cells were primed by an increased pool of interleukin (IL)-12-expressing BM myeloid cells, which improved IFN-γ production. Our findings identify a link between dietary restriction and optimized innate immune responses, with the potential to enhance immunotherapy strategies.

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • anti-tumor responses
  • fasting
  • immunometabolism
  • innate immunity
  • metabolism
  • NK cells


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