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Review
, 24 (8), 1649-1659

The Innate Immune System in the Gastrointestinal Tract: Role of Intraepithelial Lymphocytes and Lamina Propria Innate Lymphoid Cells in Intestinal Inflammation

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Review

The Innate Immune System in the Gastrointestinal Tract: Role of Intraepithelial Lymphocytes and Lamina Propria Innate Lymphoid Cells in Intestinal Inflammation

A Montalban-Arques et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis.

Abstract

Background: The gastrointestinal tract harbors the largest microbiota load in the human body, hence maintaining a delicate balance between immunity against invading pathogens and tolerance toward commensal. Such immune equilibrium, or intestinal homeostasis, is conducted by a tight regulation and cooperation of the different branches of the immune system, including the innate and the adaptive immune system. However, several factors affect this delicate equilibrium, ultimately leading to gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, here we decided to review the currently available information about innate immunity lymphocyte subsets playing a role in intestinal inflammation.

Results: Intestinal innate lymphocytes are composed of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) and lamina propria innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). While IELs can be divided into natural or induced, ILCs can be classified into type 1, 2, or 3, resembling, respectively, the properties of TH1, TH2, or TH17 adaptive lymphocytes. Noteworthy, the phenotype and function of both IELs and ILCs are disrupted under inflammatory conditions, where they help to exacerbate intestinal immune responses.

Conclusions: The modulation of both IELs and ILCs to control intestinal inflammatory responses represents a major challenge, as they provide tight regulation among the epithelium, the microbiota, and the adaptive immune system. An improved understanding of the innate immunity mechanisms involved in gastrointestinal inflammation would therefore aid in the diagnosis and further treatment of gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders.

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