Innate immunity in the lung regulates the development of asthma

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The lung, while functioning as a gas exchange organ, encounters a large array of environmental factors, including particulate matter, toxins, reactive oxygen species, chemicals, allergens, and infectious microbes. To rapidly respond to and counteract these elements, a number of innate immune mechanisms have evolved that can lead to lung inflammation and asthma, which is the focus of this review. These innate mechanisms include a role for two incompletely understood cell types, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), which together produce a wide range of cytokines, including interleukin-4 (IL-4), IL-5, IL-13, interferon-γ, IL-17, and IL-22, independently of adaptive immunity and conventional antigens. The specific roles of iNKT cells and ILCs in immunity are still being defined, but both cell types appear to play important roles in the lungs, particularly in asthma. As we gain a better understanding of these innate cell types, we will acquire great insight into the mechanisms by which allergic and non-allergic asthma phenotypes develop.

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