Stromal cell contributions to the homeostasis and functionality of the immune system

Nat Rev Immunol. 2009 Sep;9(9):618-29. doi: 10.1038/nri2588. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


A defining characteristic of the immune system is the constant movement of many of its constituent cells through the secondary lymphoid tissues, mainly the spleen and lymph nodes, where crucial interactions that underlie homeostatic regulation, peripheral tolerance and the effective development of adaptive immune responses take place. What has only recently been recognized is the role that non-haematopoietic stromal elements have in many aspects of immune cell migration, activation and survival. In this Review, we summarize our current understanding of lymphoid compartment stromal cells, examine their possible heterogeneity, discuss how these cells contribute to immune homeostasis and the efficient initiation of adaptive immune responses, and highlight how targeting of these elements by some pathogens can influence the host immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Stromal Cells / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Biomarkers