The immune system is dead! Long live the immune system!

Mike Clark mrc7 at
Fri Feb 11 09:50:09 EST 2000

In article <880o0p$ums$1 at>, Jamie Cunliffe
<URL:mailto:cunlij at> wrote:
> In article <ant101256bc8Pk=+ at>,
>   Mike Clark <mrc7 at> wrote:
> > Well I wonder if perhaps we only bother to respond to 'Dangerous'
> > antibodies?
> Mike,
> Again, by my yardstick, you are in the quagmire conviction that
> ANTIGENs are classified into dangerous, safe, self, non-self. It
> suggest that is a good example of how constant brain washing fixes
> ideas. The antigens are only classified, ON THEIR CURRENT ENCOUNTER,
> into whether they were taken up by APCs responding to an ordered milieu
> (tolerance preferred) or a disordered milieu (aggression preferred).

On the contrary I am not trying to come up with a global view constrained
by a catchphrase. I am trying to point out that blind acceptance of any
simple catchphrase leads people to extrapolate into the ridiculous. The
same is also true of your 'mess and disorder' versus 'order'.

> This CURRENT response will decay (particularly for cell mediated immune
> responses) unless something conspires to keep it going (the mess or
> disorder keeps coming). Anamnesis is largely about giving inflammation a
> memory and getting it to get down to the task more quickly and more
> aggressively next time. All we have to do is define order and disorder.
> Intact cells communicating appropriately with their neighbours is a safe
> start for order. Disorder is covered in my reply earlier.
> Jamie

Returning to my example of aggregated versus disaggregated immunoglobulin
IgG as an immunogen.

I would hypothesise that the key difference is that aggregated IgG
activates complement and low affinity Fc receptors whereas disaggregated
IgG does not. The molecular explanation is the concept of affinity verses
avidity. I don't need to invoke concepts of self, non-self, mess, order,
danger or harmlessness to understand this molecular event. I only need to
understand the relationship of ligand, receptor and affinity.

You criticise Ian York but in fact he is right. The whole process of life
exists as a complex series of molecular events which just are because they
are. Ultimately if you want a 'full' explanantion you have to describe in
full each molecular event that makes up part of the the whole process.

Mike                        <URL:>
 o/ \\    //            ||  ,_ o   M.R. Clark, PhD. Division of Immunology
<\__,\\  //   __o       || /  /\,  Cambridge University, Dept. Pathology
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