Nutrition and the mucosal immune system
Gut-associated lymphoid tissue is the dominant site for the initiation of mucosal immune response. Mucosal immunity depends on regulatory signals; nutritional elements, including fats, amino acids, and micronutrients, are critical cofactors for these signals. Nutrients specifically affect lymphocyte influx and migration, mononuclear cell activation, and the differentiated expression of immune response. The molecular basis of nutrient action has been shown to involve effects on receptor regulation, adhesion molecule expression, and the pattern of cytokine production. The gastrointestinal mucosal immune system is the major site for host interaction with microbes and provides a barrier against systemic access for food antigens and microbes. Nutrient metabolism has unique and direct impact on the host defense system of gut-associated lymphoid tissue and therefore has potential for widely disseminated impact on systemic immune response.