Regulation of mononuclear phagocyte function by the microbiota at mucosal sites

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mucosal tissues contain distinct microbial communities that differ drastically depending on the barrier site, and as such, mucosal immune responses have evolved to be tailored specifically for their location. Whether protective or regulatory immune responses against invading pathogens or the commensal microbiota occur is controlled by local mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs). Comprising macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), the functions of these cells are highly dependent on the local environment. For example, the intestine contains the greatest bacterial load of any site in the body, and hence, intestinal MNPs are hyporesponsive to bacterial stimulation. This is thought to be one of the major mechanisms by which harmful immune responses directed against the trillions of harmless bacteria that line the gut lumen are avoided. Regulation of MNP function by the microbiota has been characterized in the most depth in the intestine but there are several mucosal sites that also contain their own microbiota. In this review, we present an overview of how MNP function is regulated by the microbiota at mucosal sites, highlighting recent novel pathways by which this occurs in the intestine, and new studies elucidating these interactions at mucosal sites that have been characterized in less depth, including the urogenital tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • dendritic cell
  • macrophage
  • microbiota
  • mucosal


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