Innate immune mechanisms of colitis and colitis-associated colorectal cancer

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Jan;11(1):9-20. doi: 10.1038/nri2891. Epub 2010 Dec 10.


The innate immune system provides first-line defences in response to invading microorganisms and endogenous danger signals by triggering robust inflammatory and antimicrobial responses. However, innate immune sensing of commensal microorganisms in the intestinal tract does not lead to chronic intestinal inflammation in healthy individuals, reflecting the intricacy of the regulatory mechanisms that tame the inflammatory response in the gut. Recent findings suggest that innate immune responses to commensal microorganisms, although once considered to be harmful, are necessary for intestinal homeostasis and immune tolerance. This Review discusses recent findings that identify a crucial role for innate immune effector molecules in protection against colitis and colitis-associated colorectal cancer and the therapeutic implications that ensue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Metagenome / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Rats