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Mini Review ARTICLE

Front. Immunol., 31 July 2012 |

Lymphotoxin-sensitive microenvironments in homeostasis and inflammation

Bryant Boulianne, Elisa A. Porfilio, Natalia Pikor and Jennifer L. Gommerman*
  • Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Stromal cell microenvironments within lymphoid tissues are designed to support immune cell homeostasis and to regulate ongoing immune responses to pathogens. Such stromal cell networks have been best characterized within lymphoid tissues including the spleen and peripheral lymph nodes, and systems for classifying stromal cell phenotypes and functions are emerging. In response to inflammation, stromal cell networks within lymphoid tissues change in order to accommodate and regulate lymphocyte activation. Local inflammation in non-lymphoid tissues can also induce de novo formation of lymphoid aggregates, which we term here “follicle-like structures.” Of note, the stromal cell networks that underpin such follicles are not as well characterized and may be different depending on the anatomical site. However, one common element that is integral to the maintenance of stromal cell environments, either in lymphoid tissue or in extra-lymphoid sites, is the constitutive regulation of stromal cell phenotype and/or function by the lymphotoxin (LT) pathway. Here we discuss how the LT pathway influences stromal cell environments both in homeostasis and in the context of inflammation in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues.

Keywords: lymphotoxin, follicular dendritic cell, fibroblastic reticular cell, lymph node, chemokine, follicle-like structures

Citation: Boulianne B, Porfilio EA, Pikor N and Gommerman JL (2012) Lymphotoxin-sensitive microenvironments in homeostasis and inflammation. Front. Immun. 3:243. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2012.00243

Received: 08 June 2012; Accepted: 18 July 2012;
Published online: 31 July 2012.

Edited by:

Christopher G. Mueller, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

Reviewed by:

Burkhard Ludewig, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, Switzerland
Andrey Kruglov, German Rheumatism Research Center, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Boulianne, Porfilio, Pikor and Gommerman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Jennifer L. Gommerman, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A8. e-mail: