Innate Lymphoid Cells Suppress Gut Inflammation

Scientists in China have identified a subpopulation of innate lymphoid cells that suppress inflammation in the gut.

AsianScientist (Aug. 31, 2017) – In a study published in the journal Cell, scientists in China have identified a subpopulation of immune cells in the gut that are responsible for suppressing inflammation.

The intestine contains diverse microbial flora, including potential pathogens and dietary antigens, that need to be tolerated. Dysregulation of mucosal responses may cause a loss of tolerance, leading to harmful intestinal inflammation such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are located within the mucosal surfaces of the intestine. They potentiate immune responses, sustain mucosal integrity and promote lymphoid organogenesis. Three subsets of ILCs have been defined to date and play critical roles in the regulation of immune responses, controlling host protective immunity and intestinal homeostasis.

In this study, a team of scientists led by Professor Fan Zusen at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have identified a unique subpopulation of regulatory ILCs (called ILCregs) that exists in the gut and are genetically distinct from ILCs or regulatory T-cells.

Upon inflammatory stimulation, these ILCregs are induced in the intestine and secrete a molecule called IL-10 which suppresses the pro-inflammatory activities of other cells involved in innate immunity. ILCregs also produce a growth factor, TGF-ß1, which causes them to proliferate, thereby increasing their presence in the intestine and further dampening the local immune response.

The researchers suggest that ILCregs may one day be used to develop therapies that restore immune tolerance in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2017) Regulatory Innate Lymphoid Cells Control Innate Intestinal Inflammation.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Institute of Biophysics.
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