Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. (2009) 87:1493–1501 ©2009 Journal of Animal Science Used by Permission doi:10.2527/jas.2008-1330


The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) constitutes one of the largest immunological organs of the body. The GIT must permit absorption of nutrients while also maintaining the ability to respond appropriately to a diverse milieu of dietary and microbial antigenic components. Because of the diverse population of antigenic components within the GIT, a sophisticated mucosal immune system has evolved that relies on collaboration between the innate and adaptive arms of immunity. The collaborative, mucosal immune effort offers protection from harmful pathogens while also being tolerant of dietary antigens and normal microbial flora. Knowledge with respect to porcine mucosal immunity is important as we strive to understand the interrelationships among GIT physiology, immunology, and the resident microbiota. The aim of this review is to provide a descriptive overview of GIT immunity and components of the mucosal immune system and to highlight differences that exist between the porcine species and other mammals.