Many microorganisms gain access to the systemic circulation after entering the respiratory tract. The precise pathways used to cross the mucosal barriers of the lungs have not been clearly described. We have used the mammalian reoviruses in order to determine the pathway that a systemic virus uses to penetrate the mucosal barrier and enter the systemic circulation after entering the airways of the lungs. Reoviruses enter through pulmonary M cells, which overlie bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue, and subsequently spread to regional lymph nodes. Thus, the pathway through M cells represents a strategy by which viruses and probably other microorganisms can penetrate the mucosal surface of the respiratory tract and thereby enter the systemic circulation.

This content is only available as a PDF.