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Cells and cytokines in mucosal immunity and inflammation.

The mucosal immune system consists of a number of compartments that are populated with a different assortment of cells and serve different functions. The cytokines produced by the cells in each of these compartments are currently being defined. This is best understood in relation to B cells, whose proliferation and maturation is guided by a sequence of cytokines. PP are inductive sites that preferentially stimulate IgA production. At least in part, this preference seems to be due to the T cells located in PP, which have been shown to stimulate switching to IgA production by cognate interactions and production of TGF-beta. Postswitch B cells expressing surface IgA respond to IL-5, a cytokine produced by T cells in GALT. Terminal differentiation to IgA-producing plasma cells in the lamina propria may be driven by IL-6, which can be produced by a variety of cells in the lamina propria and by epithelial cells. T cells in the lamina propria have an assortment of surface markers consistent with both activation and memory and appear to produce a variety of cytokines in the local environment that presumably act in normal host defense. IEL consist mainly of CD8+ T cells. They have been shown to produce IFN-gamma and, very likely, other cytokines that presumably act in a paracrine fashion on local enterocytes. How these cells and cytokines are perturbed during intestinal inflammation is currently being defined. A certain assortment of cytokines are greatly increased in IBD. This assortment, including IL-1, IL-6, and IL-8, is elevated in a wide variety of chronic inflammatory states in other tissues as well. A critical requirement for cytokines to exert their effects is the expression of specific receptors on target cells. Virtually nothing is known about this aspect of mucosal immunity, but receptor expression on mucosal cells must be defined before we will be able to understand the complex interactions among lymphoid cells, the cytokines they produce, and the local stromal and epithelial cells.

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