Can apoptotic cells represent "danger" to the immune system?

Ian A. York iayork at
Tue Feb 2 15:13:22 EST 1999

In article <797lmn$9is at>,
Geoffrey M Thiele  <gthiele at> wrote:
>mechanism by which the cells are always taken up.  It may be that the
>danger signal tags the apoptotic cell
>differently to induce the immune response. 

I'd really like to see a *falsifiable* prediction from the "danger
theory".  So far, as far as I can tell, whenever an observation is made
that appears to contradict the theory, a post-hoc explanation is provided
that squeezes it into the theory, and the observation is then adduced as
proof of the theory.

It's probably equally true of the "self-non-self" theory, of course; but
as I've argued before, I see no reason whatsoever to try to shoehorn all
of immunology into a 25-word-or-less advertising jingle.  Sometimes the
immune system probably senses "danger", sometimes it probably senses
"non-self".  Pointing to the problems with the "non-self" approach is
good; to my mind, trying to replace that inadequate paradigm with a
different, and probably equally inadequate, paradigm seems to be missing
the point.  

Surely we're capable of accepting that a complex system doesn't *have* to
be encapsulated in a "paradigm".

    Ian York   (iayork at  <>
    "-but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a
     very respectable Man." -Jane Austen, The History of England

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