The leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor (LILR) family comprises a set of paired immunomodulatory receptors expressed among human myeloid and lymphocyte cell populations. While six members of LILR subfamily A (LILRA) associate with membrane adaptors to signal via immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activating motifs (ITAM), LILR subfamily B (LILRB) members signal via multiple cytoplasmic immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motifs (ITIM). Ligand specificity of some LILR family members has been studied in detail, but new perspective into the immunoregulatory aspects of this receptor family in human myeloid cells has been limited. LILRB receptors and the murine ortholog, paired immunoglobulin-like receptor B (PIRB), have been shown to negatively regulate maturation pathways in myeloid cells including mast cells, neutrophils, dendritic cells, as well as B cells. Our laboratory further demonstrated in mouse models that PIRB regulated functional development of myeloid-derived suppressor cell and the formation of a tumor-permissive microenvironment. Based on observations from the literature and our own studies, our laboratory is focusing on how LILRs modulate immune homeostasis of human myeloid cells and how these pathways may be targeted in disease states. Integrity of this pathway in tumor microenvironments, for example, permits a myeloid phenotype that suppresses antitumor adaptive immunity. This review presents the evidence supporting a role of LILRs as myeloid cell regulators and ongoing efforts to understand the functional immunology surrounding this family.
Keywords: ITIM; LILRA; LILRB; Macrophage; Regulatory myeloid suppressor cells; SHP.