How the gut immune system nourishes and protects
ISLAMABAD: The intestines of mammals allow nutrients to pass through to the rest of the body while stopping most harmful bacteria from doing the same. New research in mice now reveals how this is possible, suggesting implications for drug design and delivery.
Mammals, including humans, possess two intestines — the small and the large — as part of their digestive system. These intestines together make up the lower gastrointestinal tract, and they play a crucial role in digestion and excretion.
In the lower gastrointestinal tract, partially digested food from the stomach is broken down further into its constituent nutrients, which then pass into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall, so that they can reach different organs and parts of the body.
At the same time, however, the intestinal wall prevents most harmful agents from passing through and infecting the blood. But how does it happen? This is the question that researchers from the Rockefeller University in New York, NY, have tried to answer by conducting a preliminary study in mice.
The research — the findings of which appear in the journal Nature — reveals an essential distinction in the structure and organization of the intestinal immune system, which makes certain parts of the intestines more likely to mount an immune response against pathogens (harmful agents) than other parts.