Neuroimmunology

Neural inputs shape gut immunity

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Science  05 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6299, pp. 554
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6299.554-b

Immune cells called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are important peacekeepers in the gut. For instance, they help prevent microbial contents from leaking through the intestinal epithelial barrier. Ibiza et al. now report that, at least in mice, ILCs carry out this function with the aid of neural inputs. They found that ILCs express an enzyme on their surface called RET that responds to proteins secreted by glial cells in the gut. Mice engineered to lack RET expression in ILCs secreted less interleukin-22, a protein that promotes gut epithelial integrity, and fared worse in an experimental colitis model or when infected with the enteric pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. Thus, a multitissue defense unit helps defend the complex microenvironment of the gut.

Nature 535, 440 (2016).

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