"Naive" T Cells?

D Forsdyke forsdyke1 at home.com
Thu Dec 2 22:28:35 EST 1999

Kenneth Frauwirth wrote:
> On Thu, 2 Dec 1999, D Forsdyke wrote:
> > > D Forsdyke wrote:
> > > >   Much confusion is created when the term "naive" T cells
> > > >is applied to peripheral T cells which have not yet interacted
> > > >with MHC-exogenous peptide complexes (e.g. see Goldrath & Bevan
> > > >Nature 18th Nov. 1999).
> > > >
> > > >  These cells are NOT "naive". They have been given a highly
> > > >sophisticated "education" in the thymus where they have
> > > >"learned" to discriminate based on differential affinity.
> >
> > Kenneth Frauwirth wrote:
> >
> >  The fact that the term may have another
> > > connotation in standard English doesn't mean that the jargon is confusing
> > > to those who use it.
> >
> > DF:"Jargon" is in-group terminology, which generally
> > does not confuse "those who use it". But Immunology has
> > always been a cross-disciplinary science. If we must use
> > jargon we should strive to make it match "the connotation
> > in standard English".
> KF: Although I have not researched the history of the terminology, I would
> imagine that the term "naive" was used to describe T cells prior to
> our current understanding of thymic selection.  What would you
> suggest as a term for resting T cells which have never been activated in
> the periphery?

DF: The review of Goldrath & Bevan (see above) 
underlines the fact that T cells are probably constantly being
"activated in the periphery", either by MHC-endogenous-peptide 
complexes (perhaps mimicing thymic "education"), or by
MHC-exogenous-peptide complexes. Thus, one should distinguish 
peripheral T cells on the basis of the selecting agent. "Naive" 
> > DF: Furthermore, jargon A should be consistent with jargon B.
> > If we are going to use the jargon term "educated" for T cells
> > leaving the thymus, then we should not, in the next breath,
> > call them "naive".

KF: The "education" is generally evident at the systemic level
> (self/non-self discrimination), rather than at the T cell level,...

DF: If the T cell population has been selected (educated) 
such that peripheral T cells respond immunologically to non-self, 
then "education is generally evident at ...the T cell level". 
If I have been educated to understand spoken English, someone 
speaking Chinese will be unable to influence me. 

KF: since
> individual T cells are still unable on their own to distinguish self from
> non-self peptides, 

DF: Well, by default, I can distinguish spoken English from spoken

Don Forsdyke
Discussion Leader. Bionet.journals.note

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