Non-immunological defence mechanisms represent an important line of intestinal defence in addition to humoral and cellular immunity. This review summarises the evidence for the role of the non-immunological defence system. Protective factors that have been amply documented are gastric juice, intestinal motility, and intestinal flora. Components of pancreatic juice, lysozyme, and epithelial cell turnover may also be involved. Special attention is given to gastric acid, infection with Helicobacter pylori, and hypochlorhydria and their association with infectious diarrhoea. Epidemic hypochlorhydria is discussed since this increases sensitivity to intestinal infections in third world countries.
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