The initiation of adaptive immune responses depends upon the careful maneuvering of lymphocytes and antigen into and within strategically placed lymph nodes (LNs). Non-hematopoietic stromal cells form the cellular infrastructure that directs this process. Once regarded as merely structural features of lymphoid tissues, these cells are now appreciated as essential regulators of immune cell trafficking, fluid flow, and LN homeostasis. Recent advances in the identification and in vivo targeting of specific stromal populations have resulted in striking new insights to the function of stromal cells and reveal a level of complexity previously unrealized. We discuss here recent discoveries that highlight the pivotal role that stromal cells play in orchestrating immune cell homeostasis and adaptive immunity.
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