Editors' ChoiceImmunology

Clostridium to the Rescue

Science Signaling  25 Jan 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 157, pp. ec28
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4157ec28

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to a diverse population of commensal bacteria that works with the immune system to protect against infection but is also critical for maintaining immune homeostasis. How specific microflora influence immune cell homeostasis in the GI tract is only beginning to be understood. Working in mice, Atarashi et al. (see the Perspective by Barnes and Powrie) now show that indigenous Clostridium species promote the generation of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the colon. Germ-free mice had reduced numbers of colonic Treg cells, which were rescued by colonization with Clostridium.

K. Atarashi, T. Tanoue, T. Shima, A. Imaoka, T. Kuwahara, Y. Momose, G. Cheng, S. Yamasaki, T. Saito, Y. Ohba, T. Taniguchi, K. Takeda, S. Hori, I. I. Ivanov, Y. Umesaki, K. Itoh, K. Honda, Induction of colonic regulatory T cells by indigenous Clostridium species. Science 331, 337–341 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. J. Barnes, F. Powrie, The gut's Clostridium cocktail. Science 331, 289–290 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]