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Vet Pathol. 2001 Mar;38(2):184-9.

Uptake of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis through the distal small intestinal mucosa in goats: an ultrastructural study.

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Department of Pathology, National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway.


Various pathogens gain access to the intestinal wall via specialized cells, the M cells, found among the follicle-associated epithelial cells overlying the domes of the Peyer's patches. The present study was undertaken to examine the uptake of live Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in the distal small intestine of goat kids. Following laparotomy, distal small intestinal segments of five goats were ligated and injected with bacterial suspension. After 1 hour, the intestinal segments were excised and fixed for light and electron microscopic studies. M. a. paratuberculosis organisms were observed by transmission electron microscopy at locations in the intestinal wall, suggesting transcellular transportation through the M cells. The organisms were present both in the cytoplasm of the M cells and in the cytoplasm of intraepithelial leukocytes found in M-cell pockets. Intercellular bacteria between M cells were occasionally seen. Bacteria were not observed in association with the absorptive epithelium. This study indicates that in goat kids, M. a. paratuberculosis enters the intestinal wall primarily through the M cells in the follicle-associated epithelium of the Peyer's patches.

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