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IL-7 is essential for the development and homeostasis of T and B lymphocytes and is critical for neonatal lymph node organogenesis because Il7-/- mice lack normal lymph nodes. Whether IL-7 is a continued requirement for normal lymph node structure and function is unknown. To address this, we ablated IL-7 function in normal adult hosts. Either inducible Il7 gene deletion or IL-7R blockade in adults resulted in a rapid loss of lymph node cellularity and a corresponding defect in lymphocyte entry into lymph nodes. Although stromal and dendritic cell components of lymph nodes were present in normal numbers and representation, innate lymphoid cell (ILC) subpopulations were substantially decreased after IL-7 ablation. Testing lymphocyte homing in bone marrow chimeras reconstituted with Rorc-/- bone marrow confirmed that ILC3s in lymph nodes are required for normal lymphocyte homing. Collectively, our data suggest that maintenance of intact lymph nodes relies on IL-7-dependent maintenance of ILC3 cells.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Med

Publication Date





1069 - 1077