Development of dome epithelium in gut-associated lymphoid tissues: association of IgA with M cells

Cell Tissue Res. 1987 Jun;248(3):645-51. doi: 10.1007/BF00216495.


The dome epithelium (DE), which covers gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT) and provides both a protective barrier over lymphoid follicles and a route for antigen uptake from the gut, develops in rabbit appendix (caecum) during the first week of neonatal life. To determine if secretory immunoglobulins from maternal milk interact with this developing tissue, their interrelationships in neonatal rabbit appendix were examined by use of immunocytochemical techniques. The glycoprotein, secretory component, was not produced by neonatal rabbits less than 15 days old, since neither the membranous nor the free, secreted forms of maternal secretory component were associated with villi or DE of neonates. Immunoglobulin A (IgA), but neither IgG nor IgM, were noted on DE by light microscopy, even though IgG was abundant in the villus lamina propria and vascular spaces. The epithelial IgA was distributed, in a patchy pattern, across the upper dome surface of some two-day-old, and all five-and ten-day old nursing animals, but IgA was not on DE of rabbits prevented from nursing. Immuno-electron microscopy of appendix from nursed rabbits revealed IgA directly over the apical surface of M cells, where it formed a continuous, thick coating without binding to adjacent immature absorptive cells; it was also within apical vacuoles of M cell cytoplasm. The distribution of IgA on the DE of rabbit appendices indicated that in differentiating GALT, maternal IgA reacted preferentially with M cells or pre-M cells, leading to speculation concerning a role for IgA in the development of GALT and in establishment of mucosal immune responses in neonates.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Appendix / cytology
  • Appendix / growth & development
  • Appendix / immunology*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / cytology*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Lymphoid Tissue / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Rabbits


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin A