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Nat Immunol. 2011 Aug 28;12(10):941-8. doi: 10.1038/ni.2089.

IL-22 bridges the lymphotoxin pathway with the maintenance of colonic lymphoid structures during infection with Citrobacter rodentium.

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Department of Immunology, Genentech, South San Francisco, California, USA.


Colonic patches (CLPs) and isolated lymphoid follicles (ILFs) are two main lymphoid structures in the colon. Lymphoid tissue-inducer cells (LTi cells) are indispensable for the development of ILFs. LTi cells also produce interleukin 17 (IL-17) and IL-22, signature cytokines secreted by IL-17-producing helper T cells. Here we report that IL-22 acted downstream of the lymphotoxin pathway and regulated the organization and maintenance of mature CLPs and ILFs in the colon during infection with Citrobacter rodentium. Lymphotoxin (LTα(1)β(2)) regulated the production of IL-22 during infection with C. rodentium, but the lymphotoxin-like protein LIGHT did not. IL-22 signaling was sufficient to restore the organization of CLPs and ILFs and host defense against infection with C. rodentium in mice lacking lymphotoxin signals, which suggests that IL-22 connects the lymphotoxin pathway to mucosal epithelial defense mechanisms.

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