The small intestine has a dense porous mucus layer that permits the uptake of antigens by dendritic cells and causes these immune cells to take on anti-inflammatory properties, report researchers from Spain and the United States (Shan M et al. Science. doi:10.1126/science.1237910 [published online September 26, 2013]).
The researchers analyzed mucus from mice, pigs, and a human intestinal cell line. By giving mucus from healthy mice to mice lacking intestinal mucus and to mice with colitis, they found that the presence of mucus stimulated production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and prevented bacteria from inducing an immune response.
Hampton T. Mucus’ Effects on Inflammation May Be Used to Treat Gut Diseases. JAMA. 2013;310(17):1785. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281695