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Immunity. 2017 Jul 18;47(1):148-158.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.06.014. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

An Ocular Commensal Protects against Corneal Infection by Driving an Interleukin-17 Response from Mucosal γδ T Cells.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Fungal Pathogenesis Unit, Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Center for Experimental Animal Models, Institute for Medical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, Tokyo, Japan.
Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:


Mucosal sites such as the intestine, oral cavity, nasopharynx, and vagina all have associated commensal flora. The surface of the eye is also a mucosal site, but proof of a living, resident ocular microbiome remains elusive. Here, we used a mouse model of ocular surface disease to reveal that commensals were present in the ocular mucosa and had functional immunological consequences. We isolated one such candidate commensal, Corynebacterium mastitidis, and showed that this organism elicited a commensal-specific interleukin-17 response from γδ T cells in the ocular mucosa that was central to local immunity. The commensal-specific response drove neutrophil recruitment and the release of antimicrobials into the tears and protected the eye from pathogenic Candida albicans or Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Our findings provide direct evidence that a resident commensal microbiome exists on the ocular surface and identify the cellular mechanisms underlying its effects on ocular immune homeostasis and host defense.


IL-17; host defense; microbiome; mucosal immunity; ocular commensal bacteria; ocular surface disease; γδ T cells

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