Format

Send to

Choose Destination
World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Mar 14;13(10):1477-86.

Intestinal M cells: the fallible sentinels?

Abstract

The gastrointestinal tract represents the largest mucosal membrane surface in the human body. The immune system in the gut is the first line of host defense against mucosal microbial pathogens and it plays a crucial role in maintaining mucosal homeostasis. Membranous or microfold cells, commonly referred to as microfold cells, are specialized epithelial cells of the gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) and they play a sentinel role for the intestinal immune system by delivering luminal antigens through the follicle-associated epithelium to the underlying immune cells. M cells sample and uptake antigens at their apical membrane, encase them in vesicles to transport them to the basolateral membrane of M cells, and from there deliver antigens to the nearby lymphocytes. On the flip side, some intestinal pathogens exploit M cells as their portal of entry to invade the host and cause infections. In this article, we briefly review our current knowledge on the morphology, development, and function of M cells, with an emphasis on their dual role in the pathogenesis of gut infection and in the development of host mucosal immunity.

PMID:
17461437
PMCID:
PMC1876659
DOI:
10.3748/wjg.v13.i10.1477
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center