Immune-Epithelial Cross Talk in Regeneration and Repair

January 25, 2023

Laure Guenin-Mace, Piotr Konieczny, Shruti Naik

Annual Review of Immunology

The epithelial tissues that line our body, such as the skin and gut, have remarkable regenerative prowess and continually renew throughout our lifetimes. Owing to their barrier function, these tissues have also evolved sophisticated repair mechanisms to swiftly heal and limit the penetration of harmful agents following injury. Researchers now appreciate that epithelial regeneration and repair are not autonomous processes but rely on a dynamic cross talk with immunity. A wealth of clinical and experimental data point to the functional coupling of reparative and inflammatory responses as two sides of the same coin. Here we bring to the fore the immunological signals that underlie homeostatic epithelial regeneration and restitution following damage. We review our current understanding of how immune cells contribute to distinct phases of repair. When unchecked, immune-mediated repair programs are co-opted to fuel epithelial pathologies such as cancer, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Thus, understanding the reparative functions of immunity may advance therapeutic innovation in regenerative medicine and epithelial inflammatory diseases.