IL-22 controls iron-dependent nutritional immunity against systemic bacterial infections

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Science Immunology  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 8, eaai8371
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aai8371

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Starving the pathogen

Actively killing pathogens is an important function of the immune response; equally important are mechanisms that limit nutrient availability to the pathogen, termed nutritional immunity. The cytokine interleukin-22 (IL-22) plays an essential role in resolution of infections at epithelial barrier sites, including skin, lungs, and intestines. Using a systemic model of Citrobacter rodentium infection, Sakamoto et al. have uncovered an unexpected role for IL-22 in limiting availability of iron to the pathogen by promoting increased production of heme scavengers from the liver. Their studies extend the role of IL-22 beyond barrier sites and establish a previously unappreciated role for IL-22 in regulating nutritional immunity in the context of systemic bacterial infections.