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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014, Article ID 235460, 7 pages
Review Article

An Overview of the Role of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Gut Infections and Inflammation

Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, 00133 Rome, Italy

Received 16 May 2014; Accepted 16 June 2014; Published 1 July 2014

Academic Editor: H. Barbaros Oral

Copyright © 2014 Silvia Sedda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a group of hematopoietic cells devoid of antigen receptors that have important functions in lymphoid organogenesis, in the defense against extracellular pathogens, and in the maintenance of the epithelial barrier. Three distinct groups of ILCs have been identified on the basis of phenotypic and functional criteria and termed ILCs1, ILCs2, and ILCs3. Specifically, ILCs1 express the transcription factor T-bet and secrete T helper type-1- (Th1-) related cytokines, ILCs2 are dependent on the transcription factor RORα and express Gata-3 and the chemokine receptor homologous molecule (CRTH2) and produce Th2-related cytokines, and ILCs3 express the transcription factor RORγt and synthesize interleukin- (IL-) 17, IL-22, and, under specific stimuli, interferon-γ. ILCs represent a relatively small population in the gut, but accumulating evidence suggests that these cells could play a decisive role in orchestrating both protective and detrimental immune responses. In this review, we will summarize the present knowledge on the distribution of ILCs in the intestinal mucosa, with particular focus on their role in the control of both infections and effector cytokine response in immune-mediated pathologies.