Clostridium to the Rescue

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 261
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6015.261-d

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to a diverse population of commensal bacteria that works with the immune system to protect against infection but is also critical for maintaining immune homeostasis. How specific microflora influence immune cell homeostasis in the GI tract is only beginning to be understood. Working in mice, Atarashi et al. (p. 337, published online 23 December; see the cover; see the Perspective by Barnes and Powrie) now show that indigenous Clostridium species promote the generation of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in the colon. Germ-free mice had reduced numbers of colonic Treg cells, which were rescued by colonization with Clostridium.

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