Innate lymphoid cells in normal and disease: An introductory overview

Lorenzo Moretta, Franco Locatelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Innate lymphoid cells (ILC) represent a novel group of lymphocytes that, different from T and B-lymphocytes lack recombinant activating genes (RAG-1 or RAG-2) and thus do not express rearranged antigen-specific receptors. Members of this family, i.e. NK cells, have been known since long time, while the other ILCs have been discovered only in recent years, possibly because of their predominant localization in tissues, primarily in mucosal tissues, skin and mucosa-associated lymphoid organs. ILC have been grouped in three major subsets on the basis of their phenotypic and functional features as well as of their dependency on given transcription factors (TF). Briefly, ILC-1 are dependent on T-bet TF and produce interferon (IFN)-γ. Group 2 ILC (ILC2) express GATA-3 TF and produce IL-5, IL-4 and IL-13 (Type 2) cytokines while group 3 ILC (ILC3) express RORγt TF and produce IL-17 and IL-22. ILC provide early defenses against pathogens and intervene in the repair of damaged tissues. ILC activation is mediated by cytokines (specifically acting on different ILC groups) and/or by activating receptors that are, at least in part, the same that had been previously identified in NK cells [1].

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 7 2016


  • Innate lymphoid cells (ILC)
  • Innated defences
  • Natural killer (NK) cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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