The composition and function of M cell apical membranes: implications for microbial pathogenesis

Semin Immunol. 1999 Jun;11(3):171-81. doi: 10.1006/smim.1999.0173.


M cells, an epithelial cell phenotype that occurs only over organized mucosal lymphoid follicles, deliver samples of foreign material by transepithelial transport from the lumen to organized lymphoid tissues within the mucosa of the small and large intestines. The apical membranes of M cells in the intestine are designed to facilitate adherence and uptake of antigens and microorganisms, a prerequisite for immunological sampling. The molecular features of M cell apical surfaces that promote adherence and transport are crucial for understanding the strategies that pathogens use to exploit this pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology*
  • Phagocytes / cytology


  • Antigens