Composition of innate lymphoid cell subsets in the human skin: enrichment of NCR(+) ILC3 in lesional skin and blood of psoriasis patients

J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Sep;134(9):2351-2360. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.146. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are increasingly appreciated as important regulators of tissue homeostasis and inflammation. However, their role in human skin remains obscure. We found that healthy peripheral blood CD117(+) ILC3, lacking the natural cytotoxicity receptor (NCR) NKp44 (NCR(-) ILC3), CD117(-)NCR(-)CRTH2(-)CD161(+) ILC1, and CRTH2(+) ILC2, express the skin-homing receptor cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA). NCR(+) ILC3 were scarce in peripheral blood. Consistently, we identified in normal skin ILC2 and NCR(-) ILC3, a small proportion of CD161(+) ILC1, and hardly any NCR(+) ILC3, whereas NCR(+) ILC3 were present in cultured dermal explants. The skin ILC2 and NCR(+) ILC3 subsets produced IL-13 and IL-22, respectively, upon cytokine stimulation. Remarkably, dermal NCR(-) ILC3 converted to NCR(+) ILC3 upon culture in IL-1β plus IL-23, cytokines known to be involved in psoriatic inflammation. In line with this observation, significantly increased proportions of NCR(+) ILC3 were present in lesional skin and peripheral blood of psoriasis patients as compared with skin and blood of healthy individuals, respectively, whereas the proportions of ILC2 and CD161(+) ILC1 remained unchanged. NCR(+) ILC3 from skin and blood of psoriasis patients produced IL-22, which is regarded as a key driver of epidermal thickening, suggesting that NCR(+) ILC3 may participate in psoriasis pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Lineage / immunology
  • Dermis / cytology
  • Dermis / immunology*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interleukin-1beta / immunology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-23 / immunology
  • Interleukin-23 / metabolism
  • Interleukins / immunology
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 2 / immunology*
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 2 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Psoriasis / blood
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Psoriasis / pathology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin / immunology
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin / metabolism


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CTAGE1 protein, human
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • NCR2 protein, human
  • Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 2
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Receptors, Prostaglandin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • interleukin-22
  • prostaglandin D2 receptor