The immune system is pivotal in mediating the interactions between host and microbiota that shape the intestinal environment. Intestinal homeostasis arises from a highly dynamic balance between host protective immunity and regulatory mechanisms. This regulation is achieved by a number of cell populations acting through a set of shared regulatory pathways. In this review, we summarize the main lymphocyte subsets controlling immune responsiveness in the gut and their mechanisms of control, which involve maintenance of intestinal barrier function and suppression of chronic inflammation. CD4 + Foxp3 + T cells play a nonredundant role in the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis through IL-10- and TGF-β-dependent mechanisms. Their activity is complemented by other T and B lymphocytes. Because breakdown in immune regulatory networks in the intestine leads to chronic inflammatory diseases of the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, regulatory lymphocytes are an attractive target for therapies of intestinal inflammation.
Annual Review of Immunology – Annual Reviews
Published: Apr 23, 2009