Oral Immunization: Past and Present

  • J. Mestecky
  • J. R. McGhee
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 146)


Diverse environmental antigens of microbial and food origin constantly stimulate the entire immune system. Mucosal membranes which represent a vast area of contact with the environment, are exposed daily to antigenic substances that induce specific humoral as well as cell-mediated immune responses not only at the site of the stimulation — mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues — but also in the draining lymph nodes, spleen, and the bone marrow (Fig. 1). Therefore, it should not be surprising that mucosa-associated organs, especially the intestines, contain the largest accumulation of lymphoid cells, including B and T lymphocytes and plasma cells, as well as accessory and antigen- processing and-presenting cells (Brandtzaeg this volume). Quantitatively, the intestinal tract is the most active organ engaged in immunoglobulin production and antibodies, particularly those of the IgA isotype, are selectively transported into the gut lumen (Conley and Delacroix 1987; Mestecky and McGhee 1987).


Allergy Clin Immunol Oral Tolerance Mucosal Membrane Oral Immunization Secretory Antibody 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Mestecky
    • 1
  • J. R. McGhee
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Microbiology and MedicineUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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