Microfold cells (M cells) are responsible for antigen uptake to initiate immune responses in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) is essential for M cell differentiation. Follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) covers the GALT and is continuously exposed to RANKL from stromal cells underneath the FAE, yet only a subset of FAE cells undergoes differentiation into M cells. Here, we show that M cells express osteoprotegerin (OPG), a soluble inhibitor of RANKL, which suppresses the differentiation of adjacent FAE cells into M cells. Notably, OPG deficiency increases M cell number in the GALT and enhances commensal bacterium-specific immunoglobulin production, resulting in the amelioration of disease symptoms in mice with experimental colitis. By contrast, OPG-deficient mice are highly susceptible to Salmonella infection. Thus, OPG-dependent self-regulation of M cell differentiation is essential for the balance between the infectious risk and the ability to perform immunosurveillance at the mucosal surface.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)