Bronchus- and nasal-associated lymphoid tissues
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The bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (BALT) and the nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) constitute organized lymphoid aggregates that are capable of T- and B-cell responses to inhaled antigens. BALT, located mostly at bifurcations of the bronchus in animals and humans, is present in the fetus and develops rapidly following birth, especially in the presence of antigens. Humoral immune responses elicited by BALT are primarily immunoglobulin A secretion both locally and by BALT-derived B cells that have trafficked to distant mucosal sites. Similarly located T-cell responses have been noted. On the basis of these findings, the BALT can be thought of as functionally analogous to mucosal lymphoid aggregates in the intestine and is deemed a member of the common mucosal immunologic system. NALT has been described principally in the rodent nasal passage as two separate lymphoid aggregates. It develops after birth, likely in response to antigen, and B- and T-cell responses parallel those that occur in BALT. It is not known whether NALT cells traffic to distant mucosal sites, although mucosal responses have been detected after nasal immunization. NALT appears from many studies to be a functionally distinct lymphoid aggregate when compared with BALT and Peyer's patches. It may exist, however, in humans as a diffuse collection of isolated lymphoid follicles.
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