T Cell Responses to the Microbiota

Ivaylo I. Ivanov, Timur Tuganbaev, Ashwin N. Skelly, Kenya Honda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The immune system employs recognition tools to communicate with its microbial evolutionary partner. Among all the methods of microbial perception, T cells enable the widest spectrum of microbial recognition resolution, ranging from the crudest detection of whole groups of microbes to the finest detection of specific antigens. The application of this recognition capability to the crucial task of combatting infections has been the focus of classical immunology. We now appreciate that the coevolution of the immune system and the microbiota has led to development of a lush immunological decision tree downstream of microbial recognition, of which an inflammatory response is but one branch. In this review we discuss known T cell-microbe interactions in the gut and place them in the context of an algorithmic framework of recognition, context-dependent interpretation, and response circuits across multiple levels of microbial recognition resolution. The malleability of T cells in response to the microbiota presents an opportunity to edit immune response cellularity, identity, and functionality by utilizing microbiota-controlled pathways to promote human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-587
Number of pages29
JournalAnnual Review of Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Th17 cells
  • Tregs
  • dendritic cells
  • enteric nervous system
  • intestinal microbiota
  • segmented filamentous bacteria
  • γδ T cells,MAIT cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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