Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 343, Issue 1, pp 5–12

Intestinal epithelial cells and their role in innate mucosal immunity

Review

DOI: 10.1007/s00441-010-1082-5

Cite this article as:
Maldonado-Contreras, A.L. & McCormick, B.A. Cell Tissue Res (2011) 343: 5. doi:10.1007/s00441-010-1082-5

Abstract

The mucosal surfaces of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts are covered by a layer of epithelial cells that are responsible for sensing and promoting a host immune response in order to establish the limits not only for commensal microorganisms but also for foreign organisms or particles. This is a remarkable task as the human body represents a composite of about 10 trillion human-self cells plus non-self cells from autochthonous or indigenous microbes that outnumber human cells 10:1. Hence, the homeostasis of epithelial cells that line mucosal surfaces relies on a fine-tuned immune system that patrols the boundaries between human and microbial cells. In the case of the intestine, the epithelial layer is composed of at least six epithelial cell lineages that act as a physiological barrier in addition to aiding digestion and the absorption of nutrients, water and electrolytes. In this review, we highlight the immense role of the intestinal epithelium in coordinating the mucosal innate immune response.

Keywords

Intestine Inflammation Epithelial cells Innate immunity Microbes Human 

Abbreviations

AMPs

Antimicrobial peptides

CARD

Caspase recruitment domain

CrD

Crohn’s disease

GALT

Gut-associated lymphoid tissue

GI

Gastrointestinal

IBD

Irritable bowel disease

IL

Interleukins

IgA

Immunoglobulin A

pIgAR

Polimeric immunoglobulin A receptor

LPS

Lipopolysaccharide

M cells

Microfold cells

MAPK

Mitogen-activated protein kinases

NF-κB

Nuclear factor kappa-B

NK

Natural killer

NOD

Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain

NLRs

NOD-like receptors

PAMPs

Pathogen-associated molecular patterns

PYD

Pyrin domain

TLR

Toll-like receptors

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Maldonado-Contreras
    • 1
  • Beth A. McCormick
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Physiological SystemsUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA