We previously reported that active sensitization of rats resulted in the appearance of a unique system for rapid and specific antigen uptake across intestinal epithelial cells. The current studies used rats sensitized to horseradish peroxidase (HRP) to define the essential components of this antigen transport system. Sensitization of rats to HRP stimulated increased HRP uptake into enterocytes (significantly larger area of HRP-containing endosomes) and more rapid transcellular transport compared with rats sensitized to an irrelevant protein or naive control rats. Whole serum but not IgE-depleted serum from sensitized rats was able to transfer the enhanced antigen transport phenomenon. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that sensitization induced expression of CD23, the low-affinity IgE receptor (FcεRII), on epithelial cells. The number of immunogold-labeled CD23 receptors on the enterocyte microvillous membrane was significantly increased in sensitized rats and was subsequently reduced after antigen challenge when CD23 and HRP were localized within the same endosomes. Finally, pretreatment of tissues with luminally added anti-CD23 antibody significantly inhibited both antigen transport and the hypersensitivity reaction. Our results provide evidence that IgE antibodies bound to low-affinity receptors on epithelial cells are responsible for the specific and rapid nature of this novel antigen transport system.
Ping-Chang Yang, M. Cecilia Berin, Linda C.H. Yu, Daniel H. Conrad, Mary H. Perdue