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Journal: Nature reviews. Immunology


In recent decades, the incidence of many apparently unrelated chronic diseases has markedly increased. Here, I theorize that losses of particular bacterial species of our ancestral microbiota have altered the context in which immunological, metabolic and cognitive development occur in early life, which results in increased disease. This ominous trend suggests that we must refocus efforts to understand and reverse the underlying circumstances that are responsible for our disappearing microbiota.

Concepts: Medicine, Archaea, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Asthma, Medical terms, Infection


Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) preparations comprise pooled IgG antibodies from the serum of thousands of donors and were initially used as an IgG replacement therapy in immunocompromised patients. Since the discovery, more than 30 years ago, that IVIG therapy can ameliorate immune thrombocytopenia, the use of IVIG preparations has been extended to a wide range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Despite the broad efficacy of IVIG therapy, its modes of action remain unclear. In this Review, we cover the recent insights into the molecular and cellular pathways that are involved in IVIG-mediated immunosuppression, with a particular focus on IVIG as a therapy for IgG-dependent autoimmune diseases.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity, Antigen, Intravenous immunoglobulin, Immunosuppressive drug


The upregulation of immune checkpoint molecules, such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4), on immune cells occurs during acute infections, such as malaria, as well as during chronic persistent viral infections, including HIV and hepatitis B virus. These pathways are important for preventing immune-driven pathology but can also limit immune-mediated clearance of the infection. The recent success of immune checkpoint blockade in cancer therapy suggests that targeting these pathways would also be effective for preventing and treating a range of infectious diseases. Here, we review our current understanding of immune checkpoint pathways in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and discuss the potential for therapeutically targeting these pathways in this setting.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Disease, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Infection, Cytotoxic T cell, Hepatitis B


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis can be divided into two major subsets characterized by the presence versus absence of antibodies to citrullinated protein antigens (ACPAs) and of rheumatoid factor (RF). The antibody-positive subset of disease, also known as seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, constitutes approximately two-thirds of all cases of rheumatoid arthritis and generally has a more severe disease course. ACPAs and RF are often present in the blood long before any signs of joint inflammation, which suggests that the triggering of autoimmunity may occur at sites other than the joints (for example, in the lung). This Review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of this gradual disease development in seropositive patients. We also emphasize the implications of this new understanding for the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies. Similar temporal and spatial separation of immune triggering and clinical manifestations, with novel opportunities for early intervention, may also occur in other immune-mediated diseases.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Protein, Infection, Immunology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Arthritis


As B cells engage in the immune response, they express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) to initiate the hypermutation and recombination of immunoglobulin genes, which are crucial processes for the efficient recognition and disposal of pathogens. However, AID must be tightly controlled in B cells to minimize off-target mutations, which can drive chromosomal translocations and the development of B cell malignancies, such as lymphomas. Recent genomic and biochemical analyses have begun to unravel the mechanisms of how AID-mediated deamination is targeted outside immunoglobulin genes. Here, we discuss the transcriptional and topological features that are emerging as key drivers of AID promiscuous activity.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Bacteria, Adaptive immune system


Cytokine networks are crucial aspects of tumour immunology, particularly for colorectal cancer (CRC), in which inflammation and antitumour immunity are key determinants of disease progression. In this Review, we highlight new insights into the functions of well-known cytokines in CRC, describe recently discovered roles for a growing number of novel players, and emphasize the complexity and therapeutic implications of the cytokine milieu. We also discuss how cancer mutations and epigenetic adaptations influence the oncogenic potential of cytokines, a relatively unexplored area that could yield crucial insights into tumour immunology and facilitate the effective application of cytokine-modulatory therapies for CRC.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Medicine, Cancer, Interleukin 1, Apoptosis, Colorectal cancer, Interleukin


Crosstalk between inflammatory pathways and neurocircuits in the brain can lead to behavioural responses, such as avoidance and alarm, that are likely to have provided early humans with an evolutionary advantage in their interactions with pathogens and predators. However, in modern times, such interactions between inflammation and the brain appear to drive the development of depression and may contribute to non-responsiveness to current antidepressant therapies. Recent data have elucidated the mechanisms by which the innate and adaptive immune systems interact with neurotransmitters and neurocircuits to influence the risk for depression. Here, we detail our current understanding of these pathways and discuss the therapeutic potential of targeting the immune system to treat depression.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Medicine, Bacteria, Vaccination, Innate immune system, Adaptive immune system


The intestinal epithelial barrier is patrolled by resident intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) that are involved in host defence against pathogens, wound repair and homeostatic interactions with the epithelium, microbiota and nutrients. Intestinal IELs are one of the largest populations of lymphocytes in the body and comprise several distinct subsets, the identity and lineage relationships of which have long remained elusive. Here, we review advances in unravelling the complexity of intestinal IEL populations, which comprise conventional αβ T cell receptor (TCRαβ)+ subsets, unconventional TCRαβ+ and TCRγδ+ subsets, group 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC1s) and ILC1-like cells. Although these intestinal IEL lineages have partially overlapping effector programmes and recognition properties, they have strikingly different developmental pathways. We suggest that evolutionary pressure has driven the recurrent generation of cytolytic effector lymphocytes to protect the intestinal epithelial layer, but they may also precipitate intestinal inflammatory disorders, such as coeliac disease.


Circadian rhythms are a ubiquitous feature of virtually all living organisms, regulating a wide diversity of physiological systems. It has long been established that the circadian clockwork plays a key role in innate immune responses, and recent studies reveal that several aspects of adaptive immunity are also under circadian control. We discuss the latest insights into the genetic and biochemical mechanisms linking immunity to the core circadian clock of the cell and hypothesize as to why the immune system is so tightly controlled by circadian oscillations. Finally, we consider implications for human health, including vaccination strategies and the emerging field of chrono-immunotherapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Organism, Vaccination, Innate immune system, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity


Males and females differ in their immunological responses to foreign and self-antigens and show distinctions in innate and adaptive immune responses. Certain immunological sex differences are present throughout life, whereas others are only apparent after puberty and before reproductive senescence, suggesting that both genes and hormones are involved. Furthermore, early environmental exposures influence the microbiome and have sex-dependent effects on immune function. Importantly, these sex-based immunological differences contribute to variations in the incidence of autoimmune diseases and malignancies, susceptibility to infectious diseases and responses to vaccines in males and females. Here, we discuss these differences and emphasize that sex is a biological variable that should be considered in immunological studies.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Cancer, Infectious disease, Male, Organism, Infection, Immunology