The immune system mounts a rapid inflammatory response to injury to mobilize cells and molecular pathways that promote hemostasis and prevent infection, but this acute response is only the first phase of recovery. Wound repair and inflammation-resolving processes are essential to recovering homeostasis in the aftermath of an injury: inefficient healing or prolonged inflammation can drive chronic dysfunction in the affected tissue. The Reparative Immunology series highlights the immune system’s contributions to these critical repair processes, from the roles of T cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and innate lymphoid cells in physiological repair to the influence of cytokine signaling, immunometabolism, and epigenetic reprogramming on pathological outcomes of injury. Together, these reviews emphasize the complexity of the immune environment in injured tissue and indicate numerous potential opportunities to intervene in dysfunctional wound-healing.
Immune cell populations determine the balance between ongoing damage and repair following tissue injury. Cells responding to a tissue-damaged environment have significant bioenergetic and biosynthetic needs. In addition to supporting these needs, metabolic pathways govern the function of pro-repair immune cells, including regulatory T cells and tissue macrophages. In this Review, we explore how specific features of the tissue-damaged environment such as hypoxia, oxidative stress, and nutrient depletion serve as metabolic cues to promote or impair the reparative functions of immune cell populations. Hypoxia, mitochondrial DNA stress, and altered redox balance each contribute to mechanisms regulating the response to tissue damage. For example, hypoxia induces changes in regulatory T cell and macrophage metabolic profiles, including generation of 2-hydroxyglutarate, which inhibits demethylase reactions to modulate cell fate and function. Reactive oxygen species abundant in oxidative environments cause damage to mitochondrial DNA, initiating signaling pathways that likewise control pro-repair cell function. Nutrient depletion following tissue damage also affects pro-repair cell function through metabolic signaling pathways, specifically those sensitive to the redox state of the cell. The study of immunometabolism as an immediate sensor and regulator of the tissue-damaged environment provides opportunities to consider mechanisms that facilitate healthy repair of tissue injury.
Benjamin D. Singer, Navdeep S. Chandel
Acute organ injuries such as acute cerebrovascular accidents, myocardial infarction, acute kidney injury, acute lung injury, and others are among the leading causes of death worldwide. Dysregulated or insufficient organ repair mechanisms limit restoration of homeostasis and contribute to chronic organ failure. Studies reveal that both humans and mice harness potent non-stem cells that are capable of directly or indirectly promoting tissue repair. Specific populations of T lymphocytes have emerged as important reparative cells with context-specific actions. These T cells can resolve inflammation and secrete reparative cytokines and growth factors as well as interact with other immune and stromal cells to promote the complex and active process of tissue repair. This Review focuses on the major populations of T lymphocytes known to mediate tissue repair, their reparative mechanisms, and the diseases in which they have been implicated. Elucidating and harnessing the mechanisms that promote the reparative functions of these T cells could greatly improve organ dysfunction after acute injury.
Franco R. D’Alessio, Johanna T. Kurzhagen, Hamid Rabb
Macrophages are tissue-resident or infiltrated immune cells critical for innate immunity, normal tissue development, homeostasis, and repair of damaged tissue. Macrophage function is a sum of their ontogeny, the local environment in which they reside, and the type of injuries or pathogen to which they are exposed. In this Review, we discuss the role of macrophages in the restoration of tissue function after injury, highlighting important questions about how they respond to and modify the local microenvironment to restore homeostasis.
Satoshi Watanabe, Michael Alexander, Alexander V. Misharin, G.R. Scott Budinger
Neutrophils are the most abundant immune cells in humans and serve as first responders to a myriad of host perturbations. Equipped with a plethora of antimicrobial molecules, neutrophils invade sites of inflammation to eradicate pathogens and clear debris. Traditionally, neutrophils were thought to cause collateral tissue damage before dying at the site. However, the presence of neutrophil infiltration into sterile injuries (in the absence of infections) suggests additional roles for these cells. Now, the view of neutrophils as indiscriminate killers seems to be changing as evolving evidence suggests that neutrophils actively orchestrate resolution of inflammation and contribute to tissue repair. Novel concepts include the idea that neutrophils are key to revascularization and subsequently reverse-transmigrate back to the vasculature, actively leaving sites of tissue damage to re-home to functional niches in the lung and bone marrow. This Review scrutinizes the role of neutrophils in tissue damage and repair, discussing recent findings and raising unresolved questions around this intriguing immune cell.
Moritz Peiseler, Paul Kubes
Over the last ten years, immunologists have recognized the central importance of an emerging group of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in health and disease. Characterization of these cells has provided a molecular definition of ILCs and their tissue-specific functions. Although the lineage-defining transcription factors, cytokine production, and nomenclature parallel those of T helper cells, ILCs do not require adaptive immune programming. Both environmental and host-derived signals shape the function of these evolutionarily ancient cells, which provide pathogen protection and promote tissue restoration. As such, ILCs function as a double-edged sword, balancing the inflammatory and reparative responses that arise during injury and disease. This Review highlights our recent understanding of tissue-resident ILCs and the signals that regulate their contribution to inflammation and tissue repair in health and disease.
Jim G. Castellanos, Randy S. Longman
Skin and intestinal epithelial barriers play a pivotal role in protecting underlying tissues from harsh external environments. The protective role of these epithelia is, in part, dependent on a remarkable capacity to restore barrier function and tissue homeostasis after injury. In response to damage, epithelial wounds repair by a series of events that integrate epithelial responses with those of resident and infiltrating immune cells including neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages. Compromise of this complex interplay predisposes to development of chronic nonhealing wounds, contributing to morbidity and mortality of many diseases. Improved understanding of crosstalk between epithelial and immune cells during wound repair is necessary for development of better pro-resolving strategies to treat debilitating complications of disorders ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to diabetes. In this Review we focus on epithelial and innate immune cell interactions that mediate wound healing and restoration of tissue homeostasis in the skin and intestine.
Jennifer C. Brazil, Miguel Quiros, Asma Nusrat, Charles A. Parkos
Immune cells are pivotal in the reaction to injury, whereupon, under ideal conditions, repair and resolution phases restore homeostasis following initial acute inflammation. Immune cell activation and reprogramming require transcriptional changes that can only be initiated if epigenetic alterations occur. Recently, accelerated deciphering of epigenetic mechanisms has extended knowledge of epigenetic regulation, including long-distance chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, posttranslational histone modifications, and involvement of small and long noncoding RNAs. Epigenetic changes have been linked to aspects of immune cell development, activation, and differentiation. Furthermore, genome-wide epigenetic landscapes have been established for some immune cells, including tissue-resident macrophages, and blood-derived cells including T cells. The epigenetic mechanisms underlying developmental steps from hematopoietic stem cells to fully differentiated immune cells led to development of epigenetic technologies and insights into general rules of epigenetic regulation. Compared with more advanced research areas, epigenetic reprogramming of immune cells in injury remains in its infancy. While the early epigenetic mechanisms supporting activation of the immune response to injury have been studied, less is known about resolution and repair phases and cell type–specific changes. We review prominent recent findings concerning injury-mediated epigenetic reprogramming, particularly in stroke and myocardial infarction. Lastly, we illustrate how single-cell technologies will be crucial to understanding epigenetic reprogramming in the complex sequential processes following injury.
Katarzyna Placek, Joachim L. Schultze, Anna C. Aschenbrenner