Function of Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue in Antibody Formation

Immunol Invest. 2010;39(4-5):303-55. doi: 10.3109/08820131003680369.


Abundant evidence supports the notion that human intestinal plasma cells are largely derived from B cells initially activated in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Nevertheless, insufficient knowledge exists about the uptake, processing, and presentation of luminal antigens occurring in GALT to accomplish priming and sustained expansion of mucosal B cells. Also, it is unclear how the germinal center reaction so strikingly promotes class switch to IgA and expression of J chain, although the commensal microbiota appears to contribute to both diversification and memory. B-cell migration from GALT to the intestinal lamina propria is guided by rather well-defined adhesion molecules and chemokines/chemokine receptors, but the cues directing homing to secretory effector sites beyond the gut require better definition. In this respect, the role of human Waldeyer's ring (including adenoids and the palatine tonsils) as a regional mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue must be better defined, although the balance of evidence suggests that it functions as nasopharynx-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) like the characteristic NALT structures in rodents. Altogether, data suggest a remarkable compartmentalization of the mucosal immune system that must be taken into account in the development of effective local vaccines to protect specifically the airways, small and large intestines, and the female genital tract.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology*
  • Mucous Membrane / cytology
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology