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First Anatomical Map of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Healthy Human Tissues Created: Published in Immunity

Heat map visualization of gene expression signatures of human innate lymphoid cells throughout the body

Heat map visualization of high (red) or low (blue) gene expression signatures of human innate lymphoid cells throughout the body.
Image courtesy of Dr. Laurel Monticelli

As published in Immunity on February 12, 2019, the first anatomical map detailing the distribution of innate lymphoid cells in tissues from previously healthy humans has been created. Dr. David Artis, Director of the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Director of the Friedman Center for Nutrition and Inflammation, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Dr. Laurel Monticelli, Instructor of Immunology in Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, served as co-senior authors on the paper.

The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against invading pathogens, but there has been a lack of information on what a “healthy” innate immune system looks like. Until now, studies of this type were not completed due to the difficulties in obtaining non-diseased human tissue for research. Using genomic and immunological techniques, the researchers characterized a subset of immune cells (ILCs) in nine human organs from 44 donors with tissues donated from LiveOnNY. “We are indebted to LiveOnNY and the families who consented to donate their loved ones’ organs for research,” says Dr. Artis.

Drs. Artis and Monticelli mapped specific kinds of ILCs that occurred naturally in each of the nine organs under investigation and created a baseline of what represents a healthy innate immune system. This critical work has helped to bridge the gap between murine model and human tissue studies. Genomic data from the study has been made available online for any scientist to utilize. “Our goal is that this will be a universal resource tool for researchers investigating a wide range of inflammatory, infectious or malignant diseases,” Dr. Monticelli said.

The WDOM congratulates Drs. Artis and Monticelli on this breakthrough advance.

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Weill Cornell Newsroom: Researchers Create the First Anatomical Map of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Healthy Human Tissues