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Immunology. 1994 Nov;83(3):457-64.

Heterogeneity of M-cell-associated B and T cells in human Peyer's patches.

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Laboratory for Immunohistochemistry and Immunopathology (LIIPAT), University of Oslo, National Hospital, Norway.


The specialized M cells in the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) of Peyer's patches (PP) represent an intimate interphase between luminal antigens and gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). M cells form pockets that contain clusters of leucocytes probably involved in the first encounter with antigens from the gut lumen. Three-colour immunofluorescence in situ phenotyping of these leucocytes in humans revealed about equal numbers of B (CD19/20+) and T(CD3+) lymphocytes, the latter mainly CD4+ (median 73%, range 40-90%), but relatively few macrophages (CD68+). Most B cells (90%) were positive for surface IgM (sIgM) and often co-expressed sIgD (median 34%, range 6-60%). Occasional B cells (median 2%) did not express CD45RA (range 0-15%) and 13% virtually lacked HLA-DR (range 0-40%). Some B and T lymphocytes expressed the nuclear proliferation marker Ki-67 (range 1-10%). The M-cell pockets also contained occasional cells with cytoplasmic IgA or IgM. These sites thus contained a heterogeneous B-cell population with features of both follicular mantle (sIgD+ sIgM+) and marginal zone (sIgD- sIgM+) B lymphocytes. Adjacent T lymphocytes were generally of the memory phenotype (CD45RO+). Our findings suggest that the M-cell-associated B lymphocytes represent local extensions of B-cell follicles towards the gut lumen, developed topically to facilitate antigen presentation and diversification of mucosal immune responses.

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