Large numbers of microbes and microparticles enter the airways with every breath and the respiratory tract thus represents a major portal of entry for various viral and bacterial pathogens. In addition to mechanical defenses such as coughing, sneezing, and the action of ciliated epithelia, mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) plays a critical role in protection of the upper and lower respiratory tracts against microbial challenge. Although the respiratory tract represents about 25%of the total 400 m2 of mucosal tissue in the adult human, little is known about immune function in the airways. Much of our current understanding is actually based on information obtained from studies of the gastrointestinal system, despite the fact that many differences exist between lymphoid tissues in these two areas.


Influenza Virus Cholera Toxin Mucosal Tissue Intranasal Immunization Allergic Lung Inflammation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis W. Metzger
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Immunology and Microbial DiseaseAlbany Medical CollegeAlbanyUSA

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