Innate Lymphoid Cells in Colorectal Cancers: A Double-Edged Sword Academic Article uri icon


  • The immune system plays a fundamental role at mucosal barriers in maintaining tissue homeostasis. This is particularly true for the gut where cells are flooded with microbial-derived signals and antigens, which constantly challenge the integrity of the intestinal barrier. Multiple immune cell populations equipped with both pro- and anti-inflammatory functions reside in the gut tissue and these cells tightly regulate intestinal health and functions. Dysregulation of this finely tuned system can progressively lead to autoimmune disease and inflammation-driven carcinogenesis. Over the last decade, the contribution of the adaptive immune system in controlling colorectal cancer has been studied in detail, but the role of the innate system, particularly innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), have been largely overlooked. By sensing their microenvironment, ILCs are essential in supporting gut epithelium repair and controling bacterial- and helminth-mediated intestinal infections, highlighting their important role in maintaining tissue integrity. Accumulating evidence also suggests that they may play an important role in carcinogenesis including intestinal cancers. In this review, we will explore the current knowledge about the pro- and anti-tumor functions of ILCs in colorectal cancer.

publication date

  • 2020