The biochemical features that distinguish human M cells from other intestinal epithelial cell types are important for understanding microbial pathogenesis and for targeting vaccines to the mucosal immune system. We applied a large panel of carbohydrate-specific monoclonal antibodies and lectins to Peyer’s patch and cecum biopsy specimens from three normal individuals and a patient with inflammatory bowel disease. The results show that human M-cell glycosylation patterns are distinct from those of other species examined and that human M cells preferentially display the sialyl Lewis A antigen. This carbohydrate epitope is also present in a small subpopulation of enterocytes in the follicle-associated epithelium and in goblet cell mucins
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