Intestinal epithelial cells, once thought simply to act as a barrier to pathogenic microorganisms, may have a key role in shaping the function of immune cells, a paper published online in Nature suggests.
Mice with an I-kappa-B kinase-beta gene deletion in gut epithelial cells can not fend off infection with the gut parasite Trichuris. They do not develop the appropriate immune response, overproduce a range of inflammatory cytokine proteins and develop severe intestinal inflammation, David Artis and colleagues report.
The findings may have broad implications for understanding the physiological basis of immunity and inflammation in many different diseases of the intestinal tract, including colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
David Artis (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
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