Although innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) play fundamental roles in mucosal barrier functionality and tissue homeostasis, ILC-related mechanisms underlying intestinal barrier function, homeostatic regulation, and graft rejection in intestinal transplantation (ITx) patients have yet to be thoroughly defined. We found protective type 3 NKp44+ILCs (ILC3s) to be significantly diminished in newly transplanted allografts, compared to allografts at 6 months, whereas proinflammatory type 1 NKp44−ILCs (ILC1s) were higher. Moreover, serial immunomonitoring revealed that in healthy allografts, protective ILC3s repopulate by 2-4 weeks postoperatively, but in rejecting allografts they remain diminished. Intracellular cytokine staining confirmed that NKp44+ILC3 produced protective interleukin-22 (IL-22), whereas ILC1s produced proinflammatory interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). Our findings about the paucity of protective ILC3s immediately following transplant and their repopulation in healthy allografts during the first month following transplant were confirmed by RNA-sequencing analyses of serial ITx biopsies. Overall, our findings show that ILCs may play a key role in regulating ITx graft homeostasis and could serve as sentinels for early recognition of allograft rejection and be targets for future therapies.
- basic (laboratory) research/science
- innate immunity
- intestinal (allograft) function/dysfunction
- intestine/multivisceral transplantation
- ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI)
- mucosal immunity
- translational research/science