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Infect Immun. 2001 Mar;69(3):1515-20.

Mycobacterium avium invades the intestinal mucosa primarily by interacting with enterocytes.

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Kuzell Institute for Arthritis and Infectious Diseases, California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, California 94115, USA.


Previous studies have demonstrated that Mycobacterium avium can invade intestinal epithelial cells both in vitro and in vivo. When given to mice orally, M. avium preferentially interacts with the intestinal mucosa at the terminal ileum. We evaluated the mechanism(s) of M. avium binding and invasion of the intestinal mucosa using three different systems: (i) electron microscopy following administration of M. avium into an intestinal loop in mice, (ii) quantitative comparison of the bacterial load in Peyer's patch areas of the terminal ileum versus areas that do not contain Peyer's patches, and (iii) investigation of the ability of M. avium to cause disseminated infection following oral administration using B-cell-deficient mice, lacking Peyer's patches, in comparison with C57BL/6 black mice. By all approaches, M. avium was found to invade the intestinal mucosa by interacting primarily with enterocytes and not with M cells.

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