Interleukin (IL)-22-producing group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) promote mucosal healing and maintain barrier integrity, but how microbial signals are integrated to regulate mucosal protection offered by these cells remains unclear. Here, we show that in vivo depletion of CX₃CR1⁺ mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) resulted in more severe colitis and death after infection with Citrobacter rodentium. This phenotype was rescued by exogenous IL-22, which was endogenously produced by ILC3 in close spatial proximity to CX₃CR1⁺ MNPs that were dependent on MyD88 signaling. CX₃CR1⁺MNPs from both mouse and human tissue produced more IL-23 and IL-1β than conventional CD103(+) dendritic cells (cDCs) and were more efficient than cDCs in supporting IL-22 production in ILC3 in vitro and in vivo. Further, colonic ILC3 from patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease had increased IL-22 production. IBD-associated SNP gene set analysis revealed enrichment for genes selectively expressed in human intestinal MNPs. The product of one of these, TL1A, potently enhanced IL-23- and IL-1β-induced production of IL-22 and GM-CSF by ILC3. Collectively, these results reveal a critical role for CX₃CR1⁺ mononuclear phagocytes in integrating microbial signals to regulate colonic ILC3 function in IBD.
© 2014 Longman et al.