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J Infect Dis. 1986 Jun;153(6):1108-18.

M cell transport of Vibrio cholerae from the intestinal lumen into Peyer's patches: a mechanism for antigen sampling and for microbial transepithelial migration.


Viable Vibrio cholerae O1 were inoculated into the intestinal lumen of nonimmune rabbits. The vibrios were phagocytosed by M cells over Peyer's patch lymphoid follicles, carried in vesicles through the epithelium, and discharged among underlying lymphocytes and macrophages. Autoradiography of V. cholerae labeled with [2-3H]adenine confirmed transport. Indigenous bacteria with and without capsules were also taken up from control loops and carried through M cells into Peyer's patches. V. cholerae killed by acidification, formalin, heat, or UV irradiation were not taken up, a result that may have relevance for development of oral vaccines. Ruthenium red stain revealed gaps in the layer of mucus over M cells, glycocalyx bridging the space between vibrios and M cell microvilli, and knobby projections over membranes of M cell microvilli; these projections were not found over absorptive cells. M cells thus convey viable enteric microbes, including V. cholerae that are not otherwise invasive, into intestinal lymphoid tissue, where mucosal immune responses are initiated. Uptake and transport by M cells may also assist certain pathogenic bacteria in traversing the mucosal barrier and initiating systemic infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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