Immunosurveillance as a regulator of tissue homeostasis
The immune system is intimately involved in the pathophysiology of several human disorders. Thus, excessive or chronic inflammation initiated by numerous insults exacerbates tissue damage and - at least in some settings - promotes oncogenesis. Nevertheless, immunosurveillance, the process whereby the immune system eliminates damaged, senescent and (pre-)malignant cells, appears to exert major homeostatic functions. Accumulating evidence indicates that defects in the molecular and cellular circuitries that underpin immune responses accelerate the course of chronic diseases, including hepatic cirrhosis and cancer. Along similar lines, the re-establishment of tissue homeostasis upon acute pathological insults such as ischemia appears to be delayed when normal immunological functions are naturally or experimentally compromised. Here, we propose that immunosurveillance is a key regulator of tissue homeostasis.