SAs bind the complex from the exterior in an unspecific manner, a

SAs bind the complex from the exterior in an unspecific manner, as compared to conventional specific TCR antigen binding. As a result, SAs produce undifferentiated, exaggerated activation of T lymphocytes, which generates increased production of cytokines. If SAs escape into the blood, the serum concentrations of TNF-α, IL-2 and IFN-γ produced by circulating lymphocytes rapidly reach toxic levels, which can cause death by toxic shock (9). SAs activity is evaluated by measuring P50 (h),

the concentration which activates half of the human T cells. SEA has the lowest P50 (h) (0.1 pg/ml) of all SEs (10). SEs are coded by plasmids, transposomes, prophages, and pathogenicity islands. They have a complex structure, with two important domains: one responsible for digestive toxicity and another for superantigenic activity (11). So far, it is not clear whether these two functions can be separated (12). Apart from its effects in food-borne toxic shock, the impact of SEA on the function of the enteric immune system is connected with the immunological characteristics of the digestive tract. The intestine has an estimated mucous surface of 300 square meters and processes annually 30 kg of proteins. Daily absorption

of 130–190 g of peptides occurs; these have not only a nutritive role, JAK inhibitor but also an antigenic function (13). There are approximately 1000 billion bacteria which stimulate local immunity per gram of

feces, and as many lymphocytes per meter of intestine (14). Thus, there is more lymphoid tissue in the whole digestive tract than in the whole of the rest of the human body (15). This lymphoid tissue is distributed between the intestinal epithelium and the lamina propria, the sub-epithelial connective tissue of the mucosa. In the epithelial layer, lymphocytes are located in the spaces between the latero-basal sides of normal enterocytes. It is estimated that there are 20 intraepithelial lymphocytes for every 100 enterocytes (13). In the lamina propria, the lymphoid tissue is organized in the form of solitary lymph nodes or Pazopanib order classical Peyer’s patches, which are veritable secondary lymphoid organs. IELs are relatively difficult to classify according to the classical criteria used for T cells. The majority of IELs express αEβ7-integrin (which binds the E-cadherin expressed on enterocytes) and belong to the CD8+ type; however the CD8 molecule is heterodimeric, as is true in the general circulation, in only 50% of cases (16). Some of the homodimeric CD8+ IELs are autoreactive, and these are functionally more similar to γδTCR T cells than to αβTCR T cells (17). Likewise, some of the CD8+ IELs with αα-homodimeric CD8 are MHC-II restricted, and not MHC-I restricted (18). IELs are the result of intestinal migration of lymphocytes, which begins in the neonatal period, sometimes after antigenic stimulation in secondary lymphoid organs.

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