Intestinal epithelial barrier and mucosal immunity
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The mucosal immune system maintains a delicate balance between providing robust defense against infectious pathogens and, at the same time, regulating responses toward innocuous environmental and food antigens and commensal microbes. The Peyer’s patch (PP) has been studied in detail as a major inductive site for mucosal immunity within the small intestine. While the mechanisms responsible for the induction of mucosal immunity versus tolerance are not yet fully understood, recent studies have highlighted mucosal dendritic cells (DCs) as regulators of the immune responses to orally administered antigens. Here we discuss recent studies that describe the role of PP DCs in immune induction and speculate on the mechanism by which the resident DCs regulate T cell and immunoglobulin A (IgA) responses in the gastrointestinal mucosa.