Ectopic lymphoid-like structures in infection, cancer and autoimmunity

Nat Rev Immunol. 2014 Jul;14(7):447-62. doi: 10.1038/nri3700. Epub 2014 Jun 20.


Ectopic lymphoid-like structures often develop at sites of inflammation where they influence the course of infection, autoimmune disease, cancer and transplant rejection. These lymphoid aggregates range from tight clusters of B cells and T cells to highly organized structures that comprise functional germinal centres. Although the mechanisms governing ectopic lymphoid neogenesis in human pathology remain poorly defined, the presence of ectopic lymphoid-like structures within inflamed tissues has been linked to both protective and deleterious outcomes in patients. In this Review, we discuss investigations in both experimental model systems and patient cohorts to provide a perspective on the formation and functions of ectopic lymphoid-like structures in human pathology, with particular reference to the clinical implications and the potential for therapeutic targeting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chemokines / immunology
  • Choristoma / immunology*
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • Chemokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell