Intraepithelial lymphocytes: to serve and protect

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2010 Dec;12(6):513-21. doi: 10.1007/s11894-010-0148-6.


The mucosal immune system is constantly exposed to a wide range of commensal and potentially pathogenic microbial species. Chronic exposure to foreign organisms makes generation of an appropriate immune response critical in maintaining a balance between elimination of harmful pathogens, peaceful coexistence with commensals, and prevention of autoimmunity. Intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes provide a first line of defense at this extensive barrier with the outside world, and as such, understanding their role in immunity is critical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / immunology
  • Cadherins / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / physiology
  • Interleukin-15 / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CD8 Antigens
  • CD8 antigen, alpha chain
  • Cadherins
  • Interleukin-15
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta