IgA Changes the Rules of Memory

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Science  25 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5986, pp. 1646-1647
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192488

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The human intestinal mucosa is exposed to a complex ecosystem of harmless bacteria (commensals) that are excluded from the sterile environment of the body by an antibody isotype called immunoglobulin A (IgA) (1). Characterizing the dynamics of this immune response has been problematic because of constant immune stimulation by such bacteria. On page 1705 of this issue, Hapfelmeier et al. (2) use a reversible system of gut bacterial colonization in mice to show that responses to commensals lack cardinal features of systemic (extramucosal) IgG responses to pathogenic bacteria.