The Yin and Yang of Innate Lymphoid Cells in Cancer

Paolo Carrega, Stefania Campana, Irene Bonaccorsi, Guido Ferlazzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent appreciation of novel subsets of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) as important regulators of tissue homeostasis, inflammation and repair, raise questions regarding the presence and role of these cells in cancer tissues. In addition to natural killer and fetal lymphoid tissue inducer (LTi) cells, the ILC family comprises non-cytolytic, cytokine-producing cells that are classified into ILC1, ILC2 and ILC3 based on phenotypic and functional characteristics.Differently from natural killer cells, which are the prototypical members of ILC1 and whose role in tumors is better established, the involvement of other ILC subsets in cancer progression or resistance is still fuzzy and in several instances controversial, since current studies indicate both context-dependent beneficial or pathogenic effects.Here, we review the current knowledge regarding the involvement of these novel ILC subsets in the context of tumor immunology, highlighting how ILC subsets might behave either as friends or foes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 18 2016


  • Cancer
  • Cytokines
  • Innate lymphoid cells
  • Interferon-γ
  • Interleukin-22
  • Tertiary lymphoid structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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