Regulation of inducible BALT formation and contribution to immunity and pathology

Mucosal Immunol. 2010 Nov;3(6):537-44. doi: 10.1038/mi.2010.52. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


Inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT) is an organized tertiary lymphoid structure that is not pre-programmed but develops in response to infection or under chronic inflammatory conditions. Emerging research has shown that iBALT provides a niche for T-cell priming and B-cell education to assist in the clearance of infectious agents, highlighting the prospect that iBALT may be engineered and harnessed to enhance protective immunity against respiratory pathogens. Although iBALT formation is associated with several canonical factors of secondary lymphoid organogenesis such as lymphotoxin-α and the homeostatic chemokines, CXCL13, CCL19, and CCL21, these cytokines are not mandatory for its formation, even though they influence its organization and function. Similarly, lymphoid tissue-inducer cells are not a requisite of iBALT formation. In contrast, dendritic cells are emerging as pivotal players required to form and sustain the presence of iBALT. Regulatory T cells appear to be able to attenuate the development of iBALT, although the underlying mechanisms remain ill-defined. In this review, we discuss facets unique to iBALT induction, the cellular subsets, and molecular cues that govern this process, and the contribution of this ectopic structure toward the generation of immune responses in the pulmonary compartment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi*
  • Chemokines / immunology
  • Choristoma*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / pathology
  • Organogenesis / genetics
  • Organogenesis / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Chemokines