The role of innate lymphoid cells in airway inflammation: evolving paradigms

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Purpose of review

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) act as early orchestrators of the immune response, tissue repair, and maintenance of barrier homeostasis. This review summarizes recent findings of the role of ILCs in airway disease and highlights ongoing developments in clinical applications and treatment options.

Recent findings

On the basis of the transcription factors required for their development and cytokine profiles, ILCs have been classified into three subsets that resemble those of T-helper subtypes. ILCs produce multiple cytokines in response to signals from activated cells in their local environment. Recent studies in both humans and mice showed that ILCs are located at barrier surfaces and play critical roles in inflammatory diseases of the upper and lower airways.


The discovery of ILCs and their characterization in homeostatic and diseased conditions, have brought new insights into innate and adaptive immune responses at mucosal barrier surfaces. The recent progress in understanding the role of ILCs in airway inflammation directs translation of fundamental studies into clinical applications. This knowledge can be useful for future clinical practice.

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