M-cells are specialized cells found in the follicle-associated epithelium of intestinal Peyer's patches of gut-associated lymphoid tissue and in isolated lymphoid follicles, appendix and in mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue sites outside the gastrointestinal tract. In the gastrointestinal tract, M-cells play an important role in transport of antigen from the lumen of the small intestine to mucosal lymphoid tissues, where processing and initiation of immune responses occur. Thus, M-cells act as gateways to the mucosal immune system and this function has been exploited by many invading pathogens. Understanding the mechanism by which M-cells sample antigen will inform the design of oral vaccines with improved efficacy in priming mucosal and systemic immune responses. In this review, the origin and morphology of M-cells, and their role in mucosal immunity and pathogenesis of infections are discussed.
University College Cork ->