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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012, Article ID 157948, 6 pages
Review Article

The Role of the Intestinal Context in the Generation of Tolerance and Inflammation

Laboratory of Mucosal Immunology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA

Received 16 May 2011; Accepted 28 July 2011

Academic Editor: Ana Maria Caetano Faria

Copyright © 2012 Bernardo Sgarbi Reis and Daniel Mucida. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The mucosal surface of the intestine alone forms the largest area exposed to exogenous antigens as well as the largest collection of lymphoid tissue in the body. The enormous amount of nonpathogenic and pathogenic bacteria and food-derived antigens that we are daily exposed sets an interesting challenge to the immune system: a protective immune activity must coexist with efficient regulatory mechanisms in order to maintain a health status of these organisms. This paper discusses how the immune system assimilates the perturbations from the environment without generating tissue damage.