Research ArticleMUCOSAL IMMUNOLOGY

Microbial antigen encounter during a preweaning interval is critical for tolerance to gut bacteria

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Science Immunology  15 Dec 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 18, eaao1314
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aao1314

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Licensing microbes for symbiosis

Gut microbiota have several important functions, including aiding host metabolism and limiting pathogen invasion by competing for essential nutrients. To establish and sustain this symbiotic relationship, it is vital that the host develops tolerance to gut microbial antigens early in life. Here, Knoop et al. demonstrate in mice that tolerance to symbionts in the gut develops between 10 and 20 days after birth, and is perfectly synchronized with the formation of goblet cell–associated antigen passages (GAPs) in the colon, which facilitate transport of bacterial antigens from the lumen to the lamina propria. Their findings suggest that the development of this particular type of microbial tolerance is restricted to microbes that colonize the colon early in life.