Regulation of host-microbe interactions at oral mucosal barriers by type 17 immunity

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Science Immunology  03 Jan 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 43, eaau4594
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aau4594


The oral mucosa is a primary barrier site and a portal for entry of microbes, food, and airborne particles into the gastrointestinal tract. Nonetheless, mucosal immunity at this barrier remains understudied compared with other anatomical barrier sites. Here, we review basic aspects of oral mucosal histology, the oral microbiome, and common and clinically significant diseases that present at oral mucosal barriers. We particularly focus on the role of interleukin-17 (IL-17)/T helper 17 (TH17) responses in protective immunity and inflammation in the oral mucosa. IL-17/TH17 responses are highly relevant to maintaining barrier integrity and preventing pathogenic infections by the oral commensal fungus Candida albicans. On the other hand, aberrant IL-17/TH17 responses are implicated in driving the pathogenesis of periodontitis and consequent bone and tooth loss. We discuss distinct IL-17–secreting T cell subsets, emphasizing their regulation and function in oropharyngeal candidiasis and periodontitis.

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