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Semin Immunol. 2009 Jun;21(3):130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2009.03.003. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

Intestinal T cells: facing the mucosal immune dilemma with synergy and diversity.

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Division of Developmental Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 9420 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The epithelium of the gastrointestinal tract, which represents the greatest body surface area exposed to the outside environment, is confronted with a plethora of foreign and potentially harmful antigens. Consequently, the immune system of the gut faces the daunting task of distinguishing harmless dietary proteins and commensal bacteria from potentially dangerous pathogens, and of then responding accordingly. Mucosal T cells play a central role in maintaining barrier function and controlling the delicate balance between immune activation and immune tolerance. This review will focus on the unique features of mucosal T cell subsets that reside in the epithelium and lamina propria of the gut.

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