Immunological Discrimination between Self and Nonself

Abstract

Immunological self–nonself discrimination capacity is acquired during lymphopoiesis, formation of mature lymphocytes in the primary lymph organs and during immunopoiesis, the immune responses in the peripheral lymph organs. It rests on specific antigen recognition by B‐ and T cells, but, the innate immune defence system ensures antigen presentation and the delivery, or not, of associated co‐stimulatory signals leading to immune responses or tolerance. Thus both, the acquired and the innate immune defences, play determinant roles in the immunological discrimination. Whether caused by infection or by other factors, alterations of lymphocytes or of antigen presentation can perturb self‐tolerance and trigger autoimmune reactions.

Key Concepts:

  • Self–nonself discrimination rests on both the natural and specific immune defences.

  • During lymphopoiesis, recognition of antigen by immature B‐ or T cells leads to clonal deletion.

  • During immunopoiesis, the development of immune responses or of tolerance largely depends on the cells’ environment leading or not to co‐stimulatory signals.

  • Lymphocytes ensure specific recognition; accessory cells detect internal or external danger signals, emit co‐stimulatory signals and control lymphocyte activation or death.

Keywords: antigen receptors; antigen presentation; clonal deletion; anergy; immunological ignorance; immunological silence; danger model

Figure 1.

Antigens are unable to induce an immune response when given in an inadequate form or in absence of co‐stimulatory signals.

Figure 2.

Antigen, when presented in an adequate form and in presence of adjuvant signals leading to the expression of co‐stimulatory molecules, induces lymphocyte activation, proliferation and differentiation in memory or effector cells.

Figure 3.

The generation of lymphocytes occurs during lympho‐ and immunopoiesis; it leads to central tolerance when the encounter with antigen occurs too early or to peripheral tolerance in absence of adjuvant stimulatory signals.

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How to Cite close
Defaweux, Valérie, and Heinen, Ernst(Jun 2010) Immunological Discrimination between Self and Nonself. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000899.pub3]