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Cell Microbiol. 2011 May;13(5):660-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2011.01578.x. Epub 2011 Mar 10.

Roadblocks in the gut: barriers to enteric infection.

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Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.


This review discusses the barriers an enteric pathogen encounters when establishing an infection in the intestinal tract. There are potential barriers in the lumen that increase competition for nutrients and space. The role of mucus layer, and the antimicrobial peptides and secretory IgA sequestered within it, are also significant barriers. After overcoming these defences, the pathogen encounters the epithelial layer. This layer can be broken down into various protective components including enterocytes, Paneth cells, goblet cells, M cells and pathogen recognition receptors. Collectively, these intestinal defences constitute significant barriers that pathogens must overcome to successfully colonize this important mucosal surface.

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