Over the last ten years, immunologists have recognized the central importance of an emerging group of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in health and disease. Characterization of these cells has provided a molecular definition of ILCs and their tissue-specific functions. Although the lineage-defining transcription factors, cytokine production, and nomenclature parallel those of T helper cells, ILCs do not require adaptive immune programming. Both environmental and host-derived signals shape the function of these evolutionarily ancient cells, which provide pathogen protection and promote tissue restoration. As such, ILCs function as a double-edged sword, balancing the inflammatory and reparative responses that arise during injury and disease. This Review highlights our recent understanding of tissue-resident ILCs and the signals that regulate their contribution to inflammation and tissue repair in health and disease.
Jim G. Castellanos, Randy S. Longman