Rapid-Response Immune Cells Are Fully Prepared Before Invasion Strikes
Through the use of powerful genomic techniques, researchers at NIAMS have found that the development of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), gradually prepares these cells for rapid response to infection. This work, which appeared online May 5 in Cell, sheds light on the development and function of a cell type that is increasingly recognized as having an important role in the body’s immune defense.
“Up until now, researchers have focused on T cells—another type of immune cell,” said NIAMS scientific director Dr. John O’Shea, senior author of the paper. “ILCs are coming into the spotlight because they appear to have a critical role in defending the body’s barrier regions, such as the skin, lungs and gut, where microbes must first pass to make their way into the body.”
Our immune system has two arms—innate and adaptive. ILCs are innate immune cells that respond quickly against pathogens at the first site of invasion. They release small molecules called cytokines that transmit signals to fight infection.