The mammalian intestinal tract is colonized by trillions of beneficial commensal bacteria that are anatomically restricted to specific niches. However, the mechanisms that regulate anatomical containment remain unclear. Here, we show that interleukin-22 (IL-22)-producing innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are present in intestinal tissues of healthy mammals. Depletion of ILCs resulted in peripheral dissemination of commensal bacteria and systemic inflammation, which was prevented by administration of IL-22. Disseminating bacteria were identified as Alcaligenes species originating from host lymphoid tissues. Alcaligenes was sufficient to promote systemic inflammation after ILC depletion in mice, and Alcaligenes-specific systemic immune responses were associated with Crohn's disease and progressive hepatitis C virus infection in patients. Collectively, these data indicate that ILCs regulate selective containment of lymphoid-resident bacteria to prevent systemic inflammation associated with chronic diseases.
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