Alveolar macrophages and type I IFN in airway homeostasis and immunity

Trends Immunol. 2015 May;36(5):307-14. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Globally, respiratory infections cause more than 4 million deaths per year, with influenza and tuberculosis (TB) in particular being major causes of mortality and morbidity. Although immune cell activation is critical for killing respiratory pathogens, this response must be tightly regulated to effectively control and eliminate invading microorganisms while minimizing immunopathology and maintaining pulmonary function. The distinct microenvironment of the lung is constantly patrolled by alveolar macrophages (Mφ), which are essential for tissue homeostasis, early pathogen recognition, initiation of the local immune response, and resolution of inflammation. Here, we focus on recent advances that have provided insight into the relation between pulmonary Mφ, type I interferon (IFN) signaling, and the delicate balance between protective and pathological immune responses in the lung.

Keywords: alveolar macrophages; host defense; pulmonary infection; tissue homeostasis; type I interferon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism*
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism*
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / metabolism
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Respiratory System / immunology
  • Respiratory System / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Interferon Type I