"Tolerosomes" are produced by intestinal epithelial cells



The development of immunological tolerance to orally fed antigens depends on the sampling, processing and transportation events followed in the intestinal epithelium. We present here a description of a ''tolerosome'': a supra-molecular, exosome-like structure assembled in and released from the small intestinal epithelial cell. The tolerosome is a ≈ 40 nm large vesicular structure that carries MHC class II (MHC II) with bound antigenic peptides sampled from the gut lumen. Tolerosomes isolated from serum shortly after antigen feeding or from an in vitro pulsed intestinal epithelial cell line are fully capable of inducing antigen specific tolerance in naive recipient animals. Purified tolerosomes represent a structure by which fed antigens can be efficiently presented to the immune system. Removal of the tolerosomes from serum by ultracentrifugation or absorption of MHC II results in abrogated tolerance development.