Adaptive Immunity in the Gastrointestinal Tract

The adaptive immune system in the gastrointestinal tract has features that are distinct from adaptive immune functions in other organ systems.

• The major form of adaptive immunity in the gut is humoral immunity directed at microbes in the lumen, which prevents commensals and pathogens from colonizing and invading through the mucosal epithelial barrier. This function is mediated by dimeric IgA antibodies that are secreted into the lumen of the gut or, in the case of breast-feeding infants, IgA that is secreted into colostrum and mother's milk and ingested by the infant. Significant quantities of IgG and IgM antibodies are also present in the gut lumen and contribute to humoral immunity in this location.

• The dominant protective cell-mediated immune response consists of TH17 effector cells.

• The adaptive immune system in the gut must continuously suppress potential immune responses to food antigens and commensal microbial antigens to prevent

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