Editors' ChoiceImmunology

Keeping Friends at Bay

Science's STKE  16 Mar 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 224, pp. tw100-TW100
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2242004TW100

The commensal bacteria of the intestine share some molecular signatures with pathogenic bacteria but do not normally stimulate intestinal inflammation. Macpherson and Uhr (see the Perspective by Kraehenbuhl and Corbett) show that commensal strains of bacteria selectively stimulate intestinal B cells to produce immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies. Commensal bacteria invade and survive within dendritic cells, which travel to inductive sites of the mucosal lymphoid system. This IgA-mediated inhibition of mucosal penetration by commensal bacteria may help the intestine avoid unwanted inflammatory responses.

A. J. Macpherson, T. Uhr, Induction of protective IgA by intestinal dendritic cells carrying commensal bacteria. Science 303, 1662-1665 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J.-P. Kraehenbuhl, M. Corbett, Keeping the gut microflora at bay. Science 303, 1624-1625 (2004). [Summary] [Full Text]