Epithelial-cell Recognition of Commensal Bacteria and Maintenance of Immune Homeostasis in the Gut

Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 Jun;8(6):411-20. doi: 10.1038/nri2316.

Abstract

Mucosal surfaces such as the intestinal tract are continuously exposed to both potential pathogens and beneficial commensal microorganisms. This creates a requirement for a homeostatic balance between tolerance and immunity that represents a unique regulatory challenge to the mucosal immune system. Recent findings suggest that intestinal epithelial cells, although once considered a simple physical barrier, are a crucial cell lineage for maintaining intestinal immune homeostasis. This Review discusses recent findings that identify a cardinal role for epithelial cells in sampling the intestinal microenvironment, discriminating pathogenic and commensal microorganisms and influencing the function of antigen-presenting cells and lymphocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / immunology*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Gastric Mucosa / cytology
  • Gastric Mucosa / immunology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*