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This Collection from Nature Reviews Immunology presents a series of specially commissioned ‘Year in Review’ articles that highlight the key advances in hot topics in immunology in 2019. Leading experts in the fields of immunometabolism, neuroimmunology, mucosal immunology, Inflammation, vaccines, single-cell biology, macrophages and tissue-specific immunity describe their pick of top papers published in 2019, outlining the impact and implications of the research.
New approaches to vaccine development have generated exciting results over the past 18 months. Focusing on respiratory syncytial virus infection, influenza and tuberculosis, Fauci and Mascola discuss the impact of structure-based vaccine design, gene-based vaccine platforms and advances in adjuvant development.
Several studies from 2019 have highlighted emerging routes of communication between tissue-resident immune cells and local neurons, stromal cells, endothelial cells and epithelial cells to exert effects beyond the local tissue.
In the past year, researchers have gained a deeper understanding of the interactions between immune cells and microbially derived metabolites. Wendy Garrett describes the new insights into the receptors, immune cells and pathways triggered by microbial metabolites.
In 2019, single-cell sequencing studies provided important insight into the diverse gene expression profiles of tissue macrophages, and new systems for specifically deleting macrophages were reported. A lactate ‘timer’ that controls inflammatory responses in macrophages was also described.
Studies in the field of inflammation in 2019 have highlighted a counterbalancing homeostatic function for the glycolytic metabolite lactate, which is produced in hypoxic conditions, such as in tumours and chronic inflammation. Lionel Ivashkiv describes how lactate suppresses inflammatory signalling pathways and regulates macrophage polarization.
Here, Marco Colonna and Simone Brioschi highlight several key papers from 2019 that used single-cell and single-nucleus RNA sequencing to provide exciting insights into the neuro-immune interactions that occur in the healthy and diseased brain.
In this Year in Review, Donna Farber discusses some of the exciting breakthroughs that occurred in the T cell field in 2019, highlighting the therapeutic implications for our understanding of T cell function in infection, allergy, inflammatory disease and cancer.
Studies of immune checkpoint therapy for cancer in 2019 uncovered critical insights into the differences between targeting CTLA4 versus PD1 and the role of particular T cell subsets in immune responses to cancer. Moreover, reverse translational studies are informing our understanding of resistance and response mechanisms in patients.
Recent research in mucosal immunology has uncovered novel lines of communication between the mucosal immune system and other cellular and metabolic pathways. Given the complexity of these networks, new precision approaches are being developed to dissect the contribution of specific pathways or selected microorganisms.
Our knowledge of how the immune system changes with age has benefitted from a growing appreciation of the importance of systems-level analyses in humans. We are now beginning to uncover the global patterns of immune system development and decline in the young and the elderly.
The field of innate immunity has been rapidly evolving and expanding its horizons during the past few years. 2018 was no exception, with the publication of several ground-breaking studies that bring into light new activators, regulators and signalling networks that drive innate immune responses and inflammation.
The field of immunometabolism (both on the cellular as well as on the organismal level) is advancing rapidly. This article highlights several studies from 2018 that examine how immune cells can regulate systemic metabolism, as well as studies of the impact of organismal metabolism on the immune system in conditions such as obesity and cancer.
The study of B cell biology is a mature field, but highlights from the past year remind us that there are still many exciting and unexpected things to be discovered in terms of B cell responses to antigen, germinal centres and plasma cells.
Several clinical studies in 2018 documented the potency of therapies based on T cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR T cells), but also revealed mechanisms of resistance. These insights may facilitate the design of improved CAR T cell therapies for B cell malignancies and beyond.
The generation of an HIV vaccine remains the holy grail for eliminating HIV infection worldwide. Major advances in 2018 centred on sequential multi-immunogen strategies that are designed to induce broadly neutralizing antibodies, identifying new targets and defining new approaches to immunogen evaluation.
In 2017, studies of cellular metabolism broadly permeated immunological research. Accumulating data support the view that understanding how metabolism regulates immune cell function could provide new therapeutic opportunities for the many diseases associated with immune system dysregulation.
Over the past few years, interest in the field of neuroimmunology has expanded dramatically, thanks largely to new technologies that have advanced our understanding of the intimate connections between the nervous and immune systems1. Here, we highlight key advances in 2017 that have defined new roles for microglia in brain maintenance, for cytokines as neuromodulators and for the immune system in peripheral nerve activity.
Monocytes and tissue macrophages represent two main branches of the mononuclear phagocyte system, and they have complementary roles during immunological challenges. Several studies published in 2017 highlighted the distinct properties of these two cell types and furthered our understanding of their development and cellular functions.
In 2017, epidemiological studies in humans and experiments in mouse models showed that the intestinal microbiota determines the effectiveness of anticancer immunotherapies. As such the microbiota offers new prognostic biomarkers and shows promise as a target for future antineoplastic treatments.
Over the past 2 years, Zika virus (ZIKV) has emerged as a pathogen capable of causing devastating congenital malformations in the developing fetus and significant neurological disease in adults. In 2017, substantial progress has been made towards the development, immunological analysis and preclinical evaluation of vaccine platforms to prevent the pathologies associated with ZIKV infection.