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Thymus Teaches Immune Cells to Ignore Vital Gut Bacteria

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The tiny thymus teaches the immune system to ignore the teeming, foreign bacteria in the gut that helps you digest and absorb food, researchers say.

When immune cells recognize essential gut bacteria as foreign, inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease can be the painful, debilitating result.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers show that the regulatory T cells, or Tregs, that keep this from happening in most of us come from the tiny immune organ nestled near the heart, said Dr. Leszek Ignatowicz, immunologist in the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

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