The study find that the most of the route, its surroundings don’t appear to change much. But new research from Rockefeller’s Daniel Mucida shows that the food-processing canal consists of compartments that pace the immune system’s reactions to the food passing through with less aggressive defenses in the first segments where nutrients are absorbed, and more forceful responses at the end; where pathogens are eliminate.

The food-processing canal

The findings, published in Nature; provide new insights about how the intestine maximizes nutrient uptake while protecting the body from potentially dangerous invading microbes; two seemingly conflicting functions. The research has potential to improve drugs for gastrointestinal disorders; as well as inform the development of oral vaccines.

“At first glance the intestine appears uniform throughout;” says Mucida. “But we’ve found a sophisticated functional system lurking beneath the surface; organized in segments to allow different immune system functions in different locations.”Mucida and colleagues uncovered a functional segmentation in mice by examining intestinal structures called gut draining lymph nodes; which orchestrate immune responses.

Functional segmentation

The researchers found that nodes in different part of the intestine had different cell composition, and when they challenged the mice with a pathogen such as Salmonella; they saw different immune responses between segments. A Lymph node (pronounced /ˈlɪmf noʊd/) is an organ consisting of many types of cells, and is a part of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are find all through the body; and act as filters or traps for foreign particles.

They contain white blood cells that use oxygen to process. Thus they are important in the proper functioning of the immune system. Lymph nodes also have clinical significance. They become inflamed or enlarged in various conditions, which may range from trivial, such as a throat infection, to life-threatening such as cancers. In the latter, the condition of lymph nodes is so significant that it is use for cancer staging, which decides the treatment to be employ, and for determining the prognosis.

The proper functioning

Lymph nodes also be diagnosed by biopsy whenever they are inflame. Certain diseases affect lymph nodes with characteristic consistency and location.Having immune responses separated by location likely increases the chance that the immune system reacts appropriately to what’s passing through, Mucida says. Once most nutrients have been absorb, the system can focus more aggressively on eliminating pathogens without interfering with food uptake.

According to Mucida, the immunological differences between the gut segments exploit for a number of therapeutic purposes, including for treating gastrointestinal disorders. For example, by targeting immune-suppressing drugs to the segment where they’ll have the most effect, it might be possible to dampen their side-effects. Additionally, outcomes of surgeries that remove part of the intestine could improve if variations between segments were taken into account.