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Immunity. 2012 Sep 21;37(3):463-74. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Retinoic-acid-receptor-related orphan nuclear receptor alpha is required for natural helper cell development and allergic inflammation.

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Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1L3, Canada.


Natural helper (NH) cells are innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) that produce T helper-2 (Th2)-cell-type cytokines in the lung- and gut-associated lymphoid tissues. Currently, the lineage relationship between NH cells in different tissues and between NH cells and interleukin-22 (IL-22)-producing retinoic-acid-receptor-related orphan receptor (ROR)γt-positive ILCs is unclear. Here, we report that NH cells express RORα, but not RORγt. RORα-deficient, but not RORγt-deficient, mice lacked NH cells in all tissues, whereas all other lymphocytes, including RORγt(+) ILCs, were unaffected. NH-cell-deficient mice generated by RORα-deficient bone-marrow transplantation had normal Th2 cell responses but failed to develop acute lung inflammation in response to protease allergen, thus confirming the essential role of NH cells in allergic lung inflammation. We have also identified RORα-dependent NH cell progenitors in the bone marrow. Thus, all NH cells belong to a unique RORα-dependent cell lineage separate from other lymphoid cell lineages.

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