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Science 303 (5664): 1662-1665

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Induction of Protective IgA by Intestinal Dendritic Cells Carrying Commensal Bacteria

Andrew J. Macpherson*, and Therese Uhr

Abstract: The enormous number of commensal bacteria in the lower intestine of vertebrates share abundant molecular patterns used for innate immune recognition of pathogenic bacteria. We show that, even though commensals are rapidly killed by macrophages, intestinal dendritic cells (DCs) can retain small numbers of live commensals for several days. This allows DCs to selectively induce IgA, which helps protect against mucosal penetration by commensals. The commensal-loaded DCs are restricted to the mucosal immune compartment by the mesenteric lymph nodes, which ensures that immune responses to commensal bacteria are induced locally, without potentially damaging systemic immune responses.

Institute of Experimental Immunology, Universitätsspital, CH8091 Zürich, Switzerland.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: amacpher{at}

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