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In Shaping Our Immune Systems, Some 'Friendly' Bacteria May Play Inordinate Role

Out of the trillions of "friendly" bacteria -- representing hundreds of species -- that make our intestines their home, new evidence in mice suggests that it may be a very select few that shape our immune responses. The findings detailed in two October 16th reports appearing in the journals Cell and Immunity, both Cell Press publications, offer new insight into the constant dialogue that goes on between intestinal microbes and the immune system, and point to a remarkably big role for a class of microbes known as segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB).

"It's the first example of a commensal bacteria that can induce accumulation in the gut of a highly specific branch of the immune system," said Dan Littman of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the New York University School of Medicine, who led the study reported in Cell. "We're headed into an exciting new area, and we hope more pieces of how the microbial-host interaction contributes to health will begin to fall into place."
 
 

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