Molecular characteristics and possible functions of innate lymphoid cells in the uterus and gut.

Research paper by Lin-Chen LC Tang, Xiang-Hong XH Xu, Li-Ping LP Jin

Indexed on: 29 Nov '19Published on: 28 Nov '19Published in: Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews


With the discovery of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), which are especially enriched in barrier surfaces, the family of innate lymphocytes has grown. A unique characterization of these cells can provide a phenotypical definition of ILCs and their specific functions in different tissue environments. Although ILCs are part of the innate immune system, they are derived from lymphoid lineages lacking rearranged antigen-specific and pattern-recognition receptors. The International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) favors the notion that ILCs can be generally divided into five main groups, namely, NK cells, ILC1s, ILC2s, ILC3s and LTi cells. These cells can be specifically stimulated by environmental and pathogen-derived signals. Upon stimulation, ILCs can rapidly secrete a wide range of soluble cytokines that can modulate the functions of effector cells. Over the last decade, ILCs, especially helper ILCs, which do not include NK cells, have been recognized to be a crucial cell type involved in integrating diverse host immune responses. Recently, emerging research has shown that helper ILCs also play a critical role in promoting tissue restoration and immune responses at barrier surfaces. Notably, helper ILCs act as a double-edged sword, being involved in the inflammatory and reparative responses during homeostasis and disease. Therefore, in this review, we summarize the current findings regarding the molecular characteristics and tissue-specific effector functions of helper ILCs in the uterus during physiological and pathological pregnancy and in the intestine during homeostasis and inflammation. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.