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Allergy. 2001;56 Suppl 67:16-20.

Nature and function of gastrointestinal antigen-presenting cells.

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Laboratory for Immunohistochemistry and Immunopathology (LIIPAT), Institute of Pathology, University of Oslo, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.


Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) of the human gut are heterogeneous, including both macrophages, a variety of dendritic cells and B cells. They are found both in gut-associated lymphoid tissue and in the mucosal lamina propria, especially beneath the surface epithelium. APCs have diverse phenotypes and therefore probably different functions in various locations; their expression levels of a variety of costimulatory molecules are most likely important for immunological decision making of stimulated T cells, either locally in the gut or in regional lymph nodes to which migrating APCs (dendritic cells) carry antigen. Thus, APCs are involved in active immunity as well as in induction of oral tolerance. However, their precise role in food allergy remains to be defined.

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