An important activity of mucosal surfaces is the production of antibodies (Abs) referred to as secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) that serve as a first line of defense to repel pathogenic microorganisms and provide a finely tuned balance to guarantee controlled survival of essential commensal bacteria. By excluding bacteria from the epithelial cell, SIgA participates in the cross-talk between the host and its intestinal content, ensuring appropriate homeostasis under normal conditions. Besides the classical view of immune exclusion function, SIgA Abs exhibit the striking feature to adhere to gastrointestinal M cells residing in the follicle-associated epithelium in organized structures called Peyer's patches. Selective binding of SIgA results in transport across the microfold (M) cells, a process that facilitates the association of the Ab with dendritic cells (DCs) located in the underlying subepithelial dome region of Peyer's patches. Limited entry of free SIgA and SIgA-coated bacteria via this pathway is crucial to the modulation of local immune responses in an environment that limits the onset of pro-inflammatory circuits. Such a mechanism would ensure homeostasis by allowing antigen recognition under neutralized conditions and by avoiding tissue dissemination, two features that endow SIgA with non-inflammatory properties in the mucosal environment.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.