Innate lymphoid cells: New players in osteoimmunology

Eur J Immunol. 2024 Mar;54(3):e2350381. doi: 10.1002/eji.202350381. Epub 2024 Jan 17.


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are the most recently identified immune cell types existing in lymphoid and nonlymphoid organs. Albeit they lack the expression of antigen receptors, ILCs play vital roles in innate immune responses by producing multiple effector cytokines. The ILC family includes conventional natural killer cells and cytokine-producing ILCs, which are divided into group 1, group 2, and group 3 ILCs based on their effector cytokines and developmental requirements. Emerging evidence has indicated that ILCs are essential immune regulators of bone homeostasis, playing a critical role in osteoimmunology. In this mini-review, we discuss recent advances in the understanding of ILC functions in bone homeostasis under physiological and pathological conditions, with an emphasis on the communication between ILCs and bone cells including osteoclasts and osteoblasts, as well as the underlying immunoregulatory networks involving ILC-derived cytokines and growth factors. This review also discusses future research directions and the potential of targeting ILCs for the treatment of inflammation-associated bone disorders.

Keywords: Bone homeostasis; Innate lymphoid cells; Osteoblast; Osteoclast; Osteoimmunology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Killer Cells, Natural
  • Lymphocytes*


  • Cytokines