The mucosal immune system plays a powerful role in the progression of many pathologies, and the therapeutic manipulation of mucosal immunity can have dramatic effects on the production of local and systemic inflammatory processes.
Approximately 70% of the immune system is localised in the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal mucosa is a vast interface between the body and the environment (approximately 200 times the surface area of the skin) and it is the main entry site for many environmental toxins and antigens.
The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) governs the mucosal immunity.
The MALT is comprised of many compartments of lymphoid tissue including the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), tonsils, Waldeyer's pharyngeal ring, nasal associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) such as the adenoids, and bronchus associated lymphoid tissue (BALT).
The GALT constitutes the major part of the MALT and is comprised of the Peyer's patches, the appendix, and numerous solitary lymphoid follicles especially in the large bowel.
The GALT is responsible for determining what is noxious and what is safe. It must constantly distinguish harmless antigens that are present in food or on commensal bacteria from pathogenic assault by microbes.
Conditions Associated with Mucosal Immune Dysfunction
Chronic low-grade inflammation:
Hormonal problems including menopause, endocrine diseases including diabetes and obesity)
Hypothalmus-Pituitary-Adrenal hypersensitivity related conditions – depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
Chronic inflammatory conditions:
Autoimmune conditions (both Th1 and Th2)
Inflammatory bowel diseases
Gut factors drive immunity
The mucosal immune system is strongly influenced by the gastrointestinal environment and the nature of antigen exposure. Antigen presenting cells (APC) are key regulators of immune activity. These cells monitor the gastrointestinal environment and determine the eventual T-helper response.
When an antigen presenting cell receives antigens, it delivers it to specific cells and activates the innate immune response. The innate immune response is composed mainly of macrophages and these cells are the principal producers of cytokines. It is the balance of these cytokines that signals the naive T helper cells to differentiate into Th1, Th2, or Th3 cells. The direction of polarisation of the immune response depends on the presence of cytokines and exposure to innocuous or infectious antigens in the gut. A critical activator of innate immunity, and therefore T-helper activity are commensal gut flora.
The role of probiotics in mucosal immunity
Probiotics are live microorganisms that populate our gastrointestinal tract and confer a health benefit by altering the intestinal microflora. Probiotics are able to modify our mucosal immune response by regulating the cytokines that control T-helper cell ratios. The exact nature of the gut bacteria appear to be very important in the regulation of T-helper cell activity. With an understanding of mucosal immune processes, we can integrate new paradigms involved with the regulation of mucosal immunity. Exciting new research indicates how different species and strains within the same species can have vastly different effects on the innate and adaptive immune response and therefore the ability to alter the immune response of the individual.
High Potency Probiotic Powder plus Probioplex and Oligosaccharides is a probiotic supplement containing high potency, therapeutic strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM strain), and Bifidobacterium lactis (BBL), with fructo-oligosaccharides and probioplexTM to boost the number, growth, and adherence of beneficial intestinal bacteria. An excellent supplement for restoring and maintaining the important probiotic balance of beneficial intestinal bacteria.
Adequate mucosal immunity is essential to maintain homeostasis within the local and systemic immune system and inflammatory cascades. Therefore, it is essential to enhance the correct functioning of the mucosal immunity and induce oral tolerance in order to improve clinical results when treating conditions associated with immune dysregulation and inflammation.