The intestinal immune system maintains intestinal homeostasis in collaboration with diverse immune cell subsets residing at the epithelial layer, lamina propria and gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Bacterial components and their metabolites are essential for the establishment of the gut immune system. In addition, nutritional signals contribute to maintaining the mucosal immune response. Specialized epithelial microfold (M) cells in GALT facilitate immune surveillance on the mucosal surface by actively taking up external antigens to transport them into the lymphoid follicles. Because hyperplasia of M cells causes an excessive immune response in GALT, there is a self-regulatory mechanism to control the development of M cells appropriately. In this review, we will discuss the molecular mechanisms of mucosal immune regulation and their biological importance.
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