Author(s): Mallegol J, van Niel G, Heyman M
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Abstract Intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) are located at a strategic position between the external environment and the most extended lymphoid tissue in the body. Besides their central role in the absorption of nutrients, IEC also provide antigenic information to the immune system and are involved in the balance tolerance/allergy to food antigens. Like professional antigen presenting cells, IEC have been shown to secrete 30- to 90-nm diameter vesicles named exosomes, in a polarized way, either from their apical or basolateral side. These vesicles carry molecules involved in adhesion and antigen presentation, comprising major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II molecules, tetraspan proteins, CD26/dipeptidyl-peptidase IV, and A33 antigen, a molecule essentially restricted to the intestinal epithelium. Invariant chain, transferrin receptor, and Na-K-ATPase are not expressed on epithelial exosomes. In vivo, in mice, epithelial exosomes carrying MHC/ovalbumin peptide complexes induce specific immune responses when injected intraperitoneally. A33 antigen, an Ig-like molecule highly specific for intestinal epithelial cells and enriched in epithelial exosomes, is found at the surface of cells entering mesenteric lymph nodes suggesting exosome migration from the epithelial layer to the gut associated lymphoid system. Taken together, intestinal epithelial exosomes released at the basolateral surface of enterocytes could be antigen-carrying structures constituting a link between luminal antigens and the local immune system and acting as sensors of the antigenic information present in the intestinal lumen.
This article was published in Blood Cells Mol Dis
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology