The intestinal epithelial cell: processing and presentation of antigen to the mucosal immune system

Immunol Rev. 1999 Dec;172:315-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065x.1999.tb01375.x.


The immunologic tone of the intestinal tract is one of suppressed or highly regulated responses. While there are several components (intrinsic and extrinsic to the gut-associated lymphoid tissue) responsible for this immunologically suppressed tone, the intestinal epithelial call (IEC) has been proposed as a key player in this process. IECs can take up and process antigen but distinct surface molecules and restriction elements allow them to present these antigens to unique regulatory T cells. These include the expression of the class Ib molecule CD1d as well as a novel CD8 ligand, gp180. These molecules come together to activate a subpopulation of CD8+ regulatory cells whose function is to suppress immune responses in an antigen non-specific fashion most likely through cognate interactions. This form of regulation may be unique to the gut-associated lymphoid tissue which is consistent with the unusual demands upon this part of the immune system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation*
  • Antigens, CD1 / metabolism
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation


  • Antigens, CD1
  • Antigens, CD1d
  • CD1D protein, human
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II