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Innate lymphoid cells: emerging insights in development, lineage relationships, and function.


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are immune cells that lack a specific antigen receptor yet can produce an array of effector cytokines that in variety match that of T helper cell subsets. ILCs function in lymphoid organogenesis, tissue remodeling, antimicrobial immunity, and inflammation, particularly at barrier surfaces. Their ability to promptly respond to insults inflicted by stress-causing microbes strongly suggests that ILCs are critical in first-line immunological defenses. Here, we review current data on developmental requirements, lineage relationships, and effector functions of two families of ILCs: (a) Rorγt-expressing cells involved in lymphoid tissue formation, mucosal immunity, and inflammation and (b) type 2 ILCs that are important for helminth immunity. We also discuss the potential roles of ILCs in the pathology of immune-mediated inflammatory and infectious diseases including allergy.