2017 Volume 79 Issue 11 Pages 1826-1835
The mechanism by which indigenous bacteria on the follicle-associated epithelium (FAE) of lymphatic follicles (LFs) accelerate the differentiation of microvillous columnar epithelial cells (MV) into M-cells was immunohistochemically investigated in rat Peyer’s patches. The results showed that the number of Toll-like receptor (TLR) -4+ M-cells was greater in the FAE with expansion of bacterial colonies (LFs with bacterial colonies on the FAE: b-LF) than the FAE without expansion of bacterial colonies (nb-LF). TLR-4 was also expressed in the striated borders of MV upstream next to M-cells in the FAE of the b-LF. TLR-4+ vesicles were frequently detected in the cytoplasms of MV with TLR-4+ striated borders upstream next to TLR-4+ M-cells in the FAE of b-LF. These findings suggest that TLR-4+ MV take up TLR-4 ligands and differentiate into M-cells in the b-LF. Neither the distribution of RANK nor that of RANKL was coincident with that of M-cells in the b-LF. Moreover, RANK, but not RANKL, was expressed in intestinal villi, whereas cleaved caspase-3 was immunonegative in the MV and M-cells of the FAE, unlike in villous epithelial cells. Therefore, RANK/RANKL signaling in the LF might contribute to the down-regulation of epithelial apoptosis to facilitate the differentiation of MV into M-cells in rat Peyer’s patches.