The structure of intestinal mucosal defense and antigen sampling. Primary defense against penetration by luminal microbes is primarily provided by secretory IgA, mucin and antimicrobial peptides. In addition, single layered intestinal epithelial cell are anchored to each other by tight junctions. Goblet cells scattered among the epithelial lining produce mucin, which represents a physical barrier against bacterial access to epithelial cells. Secretory IgA attaches to luminal antigens and protects against invasion of pathogens inhibiting the penetration of harmful antigens. On the epithelial side of the mucin layer, antimicrobial peptides neutralize bacteria that have penetrated through the mucin layer. The Peyer’s patch also contains a specific type of enterocytes, M-cells, which periodically sample the luminal contents, transcytosing luminal antigens. Antigens that have broken through the epithelial barrier to the basolateral lamina propria generate inflammatory responses, while those presented to Peyer’s patches by periodic sampling typically generate regulatory responses [80, 81]. Additionally, T cells activated in mesenteric lymph nodes (not shown) express intestinal homing receptors such as the integrin α4β7, which guide the T cells back to the intestinal mucosa, where they can participate in protective or inflammatory immune responses.