CX3CR1+ mononuclear phagocytes control immunity to intestinal fungi

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Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 232-236
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1503

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Phagocytes patrol intestinal fungi

Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria can promote good health. Leonardi et al. show that fungi can also interact with gut immune cells to maintain intestinal well-being. CX3CR1+ mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) patrol the intestine and promote antifungal immunity. Genetic deletion of CX3CR1 in MNPs caused colitis-like symptoms in mice. CX3CR1 polymorphisms were detected in Crohn's disease patients that were unable to produce antibodies against multiple fungal species. Thus, commensal fungi may be as important as bacteria in maintaining gut health, and antifungal therapy could hold promise for treating intestinal inflammation.

Science, this issue p. 232


Intestinal fungi are an important component of the microbiota, and recent studies have unveiled their potential in modulating host immune homeostasis and inflammatory disease. Nonetheless, the mechanisms governing immunity to gut fungal communities (mycobiota) remain unknown. We identified CX3CR1+ mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) as being essential for the initiation of innate and adaptive immune responses to intestinal fungi. CX3CR1+ MNPs express antifungal receptors and activate antifungal responses in a Syk-dependent manner. Genetic ablation of CX3CR1+ MNPs in mice led to changes in gut fungal communities and to severe colitis that was rescued by antifungal treatment. In Crohn’s disease patients, a missense mutation in the gene encoding CX3CR1 was identified and found to be associated with impaired antifungal responses. These results unravel a role of CX3CR1+ MNPs in mediating interactions between intestinal mycobiota and host immunity at steady state and during inflammatory disease.

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