Species Differences in the Effectiveness of Intestinal Barriers against Penetration of Inert Particulates and Bacteria

  • H. Cottier
  • Th. Schaffner
  • A. D. Chanana
  • D. D. Joel
  • B. Sordat
  • B. J. Bryant
  • M. W. Hess


Host and microflora interactions occur on all surfaces of the body exposed to the environment. The microbial ecology of the gastrointestinal tract may be regarded as the most important site of interaction if numbers of microorganisms and diversity and magnitude of antigenic stimulation involved are considered. Because of suppression of, or competition with, potential invaders, possibly also by virtue of its ability to block access of invaders to the tissues, the autochthonous flora contributes to the defense of the host. It may also be related to the mosaic-like distribution of bacterial species along the gastrointestinal tract. It has been recognized in recent years that intimate symbiotic associations between microorganisms and the inner surface of the gastrointestinal tract in small rodents are instrumental in maintaining a state of health. An unexpected finding was that large numbers of hitherto unknown, highly oxygen-sensitive bacteria form dense layers covering the mucosal epithelium (1, 2, 3). Little is known with respect to the relative importance of secretory IgA, lysozyme, complement components and other humoral factors for defense against microorganisms in the neighbourhood of, or within, intestinal epithelial layers. A so-called chemical barrier resembling the intracellular digestive apparatus, as observed in mammalian tissue culture cells (4), has been proposed to exist near the brush border of epithelial cells where activities of enzymes such as acid phosphatase and nonspecific esterase have been demonstrated. However, this defense mechanism does not provide sufficient protection against such pathogenic microbes as Salmonella, Shigella, Cryptosporidia and other organisms which penetrate and/ or reside and multiply within the brush border or the entire epithelial layer (review: 5); moreover, it is sensitive to the action of certain enterotoxins such as those from E. coli and Vibrio cholerae (6, 7, 8).


Brush Border Mesenteric Lymph Node Epithelial Layer Nonspecific Esterase Cell BioI 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Cottier
  • Th. Schaffner
  • A. D. Chanana
  • D. D. Joel
  • B. Sordat
  • B. J. Bryant
  • M. W. Hess

There are no affiliations available

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