Paneth cells directly sense gut commensals and maintain homeostasis at the intestinal host-microbial interface

Shipra Vaishnava, Cassie L. Behrendt, Anisa S. Ismail, Lars Eckmann, Lora V. Hooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

582 Scopus citations


The intestinal epithelium is in direct contact with a vast microbiota, yet little is known about how epithelial cells defend the host against the heavy bacterial load. To address this question we studied Paneth cells, a key small intestinal epithelial lineage. We found that Paneth cells directly sense enteric bacteria through cell-autonomous MyD88-dependent toll-like receptor (TLR) activation, triggering expression of multiple antimicrobial factors. Paneth cells were essential for controlling intestinal barrier penetration by commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Furthermore, Paneth cell-intrinsic MyD88 signaling limited bacterial penetration of host tissues, revealing a role for epithelial MyD88 in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. Our findings establish that gut epithelia actively sense enteric bacteria and play an essential role in maintaining host-microbial homeostasis at the mucosal interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20858-20863
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number52
StatePublished - Dec 30 2008



  • Commensal bacteria
  • Epithelium
  • Innate immunity
  • Intestine
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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