Tolerance to innocuous antigens from the diet and the commensal microbiota is a fundamental process essential to health. Why tolerance is efficiently induced to substances arising from the hostile environment of the gut lumen is incompletely understood but may be related to how these antigens are encountered by the immune system. We observed that goblet cell associated antigen passages (GAPs), but not other pathways of luminal antigen capture, correlated with the acquisition of luminal substances by lamina propria (LP) antigen presenting cells (APCs) and with the sites of tolerance induction to luminal antigens. Strikingly this role extended beyond antigen delivery. The GAP function of goblet cells facilitated maintenance of pre-existing LP T regulatory cells (Tregs), imprinting LP-dendritic cells with tolerogenic properties, and facilitating LP macrophages to produce the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10. Moreover, tolerance to dietary antigen was impaired in the absence of GAPs. Thus, by delivering luminal antigens, maintaining pre-existing LP Tregs, and imprinting tolerogenic properties on LP-APCs GAPs support tolerance to substances encountered in the hostile environment of the gut lumen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy