Reversible microbial colonization of germ-free mice reveals the dynamics of IgA immune responses

Siegfried Hapfelmeier, Melissa A E Lawson, Emma Slack, Jorum K. Kirundi, Maaike Stoel, Mathias Heikenwalder, Julia Cahenzli, Yuliya Velykoredko, Maria L. Balmer, Kathrin Endt, Markus B. Geuking, Roy Curtiss, Kathy D. McCoy, Andrew J. Macpherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

605 Scopus citations


The lower intestine of adult mammals is densely colonized with nonpathogenic (commensal) microbes. Gut bacteria induce protective immune responses, which ensure host-microbial mutualism. The continuous presence of commensal intestinal bacteria has made it difficult to study mucosal immune dynamics. Here, we report a reversible germ-free colonization system in mice that is independent of diet or antibiotic manipulation. A slow (more than 14 days) onset of a long-lived (half-life over 16 weeks), highly specific anticommensal immunoglobulin A (IgA) response in germ-free mice was observed. Ongoing commensal exposure in colonized mice rapidly abrogated this response. Sequential doses lacked a classical prime-boost effect seen in systemic vaccination, but specific IgA induction occurred as a stepwise response to current bacterial exposure, such that the antibody repertoire matched the existing commensal content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1705-1709
Number of pages5
Issue number5986
StatePublished - Jun 25 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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