M cells and the pathogenesis of mucosal and systemic infections

Trends Microbiol. 1996 Jan;4(1):22-9. doi: 10.1016/0966-842x(96)81501-0.


M cells are specialized epithelial cells of mucosal surfaces lining the respiratory and intestinal tracts. They participate in generating mucosal immune protection by sampling and delivering antigens to the underlying lymphoid tissue. A variety of viral, bacterial and protozoal pathogens exploit the M cell transport pathway to breach mucosal barriers and establish local or systemic infections.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mucous Membrane / cytology
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Protozoan Infections / immunology
  • Respiratory System / cytology
  • Respiratory System / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology