Ontogenetic aspects of the intestinal immune system in man

  • Christian P. Braegger
  • Jo Spencer
  • Thomas T. MacDonald


The development of the mucosal immune system in the human fetus has been studied in some detail. Aggregates of T and B cells form early Peyer's patches by 16 weeks gestation and by 19 weeks organised Peyer's patches with T and B cell zones are seen. T cells populate the mucosal lamina propria and epithelium from 11 weeks gestation and increase in number thereafter. As in the adult, most intrepithelial lymphocytes are CD8+ and most lamina propria T cells are CD4+. By 20 weeks, villus epithelial cells are HLA-DR+ and secretory component is also expressed. In the absence of lumenal stimulation in the fetus there is no intestinal secretory IgA antibody response. A few IgA plasma cells are present in fetal salivary glands but the number does not dramatically increase until after birth.

Key words

Peyer's patch T cell Ontogeny IgA Secretory component Salivary glands 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian P. Braegger
    • 1
  • Jo Spencer
    • 2
  • Thomas T. MacDonald
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of HistopathologyUniversity College and Middlesex School of MedicineLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Paediatric GastroenterologySt. Bartholomew's HospitalLondonUK

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