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Immunology. 1991 Sep;74(1):68-73.

A role for intestinal T lymphocytes in bronchus mucosal immunity.

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Auspharm Institute of Mucosal Immunology, Jesmond, Australia.


Rats immunized by intra-Peyer's patch (IPP) injection with non-typable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHI) have been shown to clear this organism from the respiratory tract faster than non-immunized rats. We therefore performed a series of experiments in order to determine the mechanism of action of the enhanced pulmonary clearance. The experiments show that homing of intestinal T cells to the respiratory tract is an important component in the observed immunity, while specific antibody adsorbed to bacteria does not influence pulmonary bacterial clearance rate. Mucosally derived lymphocytes were collected from the thoracic duct of rats primed by IPP inoculation with NTHI, and intravenously transfused to recipient rats. These rats were shown to clear bacteria from bronchial spaces faster than non-transfused rats, or rats transfused with non-immune lymphocytes. Lymphocytes collected from the spleens of immunized rats were also capable of conferring the ability to accelerate pulmonary clearance. When thoracic duct lymphocytes (TDL) purified for T lymphocytes were transferred to recipients, the NTHI clearance rate was accelerated. In experiments to evaluate the activity of specific antibody, it was demonstrated that NTHI opsonized with antibody from bronchial washings of immunized rats was not cleared from the respiratory tract of naive rats faster than non-opsonized controls. These data indicate that immune clearance of NTHI from the respiratory tract following gut immunization is dependent upon antigen-primed lymphocytes, that primed T cells are capable of conferring this protection, and that a primary role for specific antibody in the process cannot be established.

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