Gastroenterologia Japonica

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 325–334 | Cite as

Functional morphology of microfold cells (M cells) in Peyer’s patches

Phagocytosis and transport of BCG by M cells into rabbit Peyer’s patches
  • Yoshinori Fujimura
Original Article


Suspensions of BCG (32-80 x 107 viable bacilli/ml) were injected into constricted loops of ileum containing a Peyer’s patch from non-immunized young adult rabbits after laparotomy under anesthesia. Light microscopically (rhodamine Bauramine double staining, Ziehl-Neelsen staining), many mycobacteria were observed adhering to the surface of follicleassociated epithelium (FAE) and in phagocytes that had migrated within FAE and to deep lymphoid follicles. Electron microscopically in 1-hour post inoculated specimens, the bacteria were found adhering specifically to M cells, and the microfolds of the M cells were seen to stretch like tentacles toward the bacteria to catch them. The bacteria were recognized in the large vesicle of the cytoplasm of the M cells. The bacteria phagocytized by the M cells were found in the intercellular space between M cells and columnar cells. The bacteria were also seen in macrophages enfolded by the M cells as well as in macrophages below the FAE. In this experiment, BCG were found to have been phagocytized only by M cells, and none were found in absorptive cells. It was verified that M cells are the first entrance through which BCG invade the host and that they are transported from M cells to macrophages of the epithelium.

Key Words

BCG Microfold cell Peyer’s patch 


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Gastroenterology 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshinori Fujimura
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Gastroenterology, Department of MedicineKawasaki Medical SchoolKurashikiJapan

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