Figure 1.

The physical barrier. Separating the intestinal lumen and its inhabiting commensal bacteria from the underlying lamina propria is a single layer of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). These IECs are stitched together, creating a tight junction and regulating the paracellular flux. IECs also secrete soluble factors that are crucial to intestinal homeostasis, such as mucins and anti-microbial peptides (AMPs), including lysozymes, IgA, defensins, and C-type lectins such as RegIII╬│. Release of these molecules into luminal crypts is thought to prevent microbial invasion into the crypt microenvironment as well as limit bacteria-epithelial cell contact. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are also expressed on IECs to sense a breach of barrier or bacterial invasion. Underneath the IECs, the lamina propria contains T cells, bacteria-sampling dendritic cells (DCs), and macrophages.

Costello et al. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013 15:214   doi:10.1186/ar4228
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