The balance between immunity and inflammation

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Science  08 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6355, pp. 973-974
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3086

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Lungs execute two critical functions that can be at odds with one another: eliminating harmful toxins, particulates, and microbes; and exchanging gas through uninflamed structures—alveoli—to collect oxygen and discharge carbon dioxide. Lungs have a multilayered response to unwanted invaders, offering physical barriers as well as arranging immune cells at airway surfaces. Yet, lungs have the “Goldilocks” challenge of deploying this armory with just the right amount of inflammation. Consequently, lung immunity must be choreographed so that invaders are purged quickly, inflammation tempered, and homeostasis preserved. In this issue, two papers reveal how lung immunity handles these tasks and what happens when things go awry. Shlezinger et al. (1) on page 1037 unveil a clever trick that neutrophils play on inhaled fungal spores to resist life-threatening infections. This may reveal new treatment strategies. On page 1014, Sinclair et al. (2) report metabolic derangements in dendritic cells (DCs) that reprogram the allergic response to inhaled particulates, with implications for asthma.