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Tissue immunity broadcasts near and far

Research advances in tissue immunology have begun to decipher how organ physiology is integrated with resident immune cells during tissue development, healthspan and disease states. Here, we review a selection of studies from 2019 that highlight how resident lymphocytes communicate with epithelia, neurons and stromal cells in tissues to coordinate regional and systemic remodelling in response to local perturbations.

Key advances

  • Skin epidermal innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) represent a transitional subset with features of both ILC2s and ILC3s that limit sebaceous gland growth and regulate the skin microbiome.

  • Sensory neurons are a rapid means of broadcasting local tissue perturbations to regional sites, acting through innate lymphocytes to prime these sites for subsequent challenge.

  • Mesenteric lymph nodes drain discrete regions of the intestine, maintaining an anatomical patterning that promotes immune tolerance at proximal sites and immune effector function at distal sites.

  • Mesenchymal stromal cells communicate with tissue-resident lymphocytes within distinct niches in adipose tissue, lung and elsewhere, contributing to organ function and regional immunity.

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Fig. 1: Broadcasting tissue immunity.


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The authors acknowledge discussion with members of the Molofsky and Locksley laboratories and support from the National Institutes of Health (to A.B.M. and R.M.L.), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (to R.M.L.) and the Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center (to A.B.M. and R.M.L.).

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Correspondence to Ari B. Molofsky or Richard M. Locksley.

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Molofsky, A.B., Locksley, R.M. Tissue immunity broadcasts near and far. Nat Rev Immunol 20, 93–94 (2020).

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