"Danger" or "Alarm"?

Jamie Cunliffe cunlij at my-deja.com
Fri Feb 18 17:21:39 EST 2000

In article <38AC84C2.C0BFCAC8 at home.com>,
  D Forsdyke <forsdyke1 at home.com> wrote:
> The word "danger" is currently popular among immunologists.
> However, "alarm" (Forsdyke, 1995) may be preferable, since it
> conveys the sense of a distinct call to action, whereas
> "danger" is an attribute which leads one to beware, or keep away.

I agree that "alarm", as the initiator of any response, is at the
centre of any inflammatory/immune response. David Lo's group have
recently published a paper in Immunological Reviews on RelB. It is
clear that ALL nucleated cells are able to signal alarm. The
probability is that nearly all inflammatory/immune responses are set
off by the cells in a previously "happy" tissue realising that
something is amiss and sending for the "police" (phagocytes and their
evolvent retinue).

BUT, once the troops arrive they must set about ingesting, digesting
and presenting "something" to the T-cells. The main quetions remain, I
think, "what to ingest?" and what to weight towards immune aggression
rather than T-cell clonal deletion. I reckon that the decision about
what is to be ingested is a very ancient discrimination that has
probably changed little from the free amoebocyte/early multicellulate
lifeforms. The main thing that has changed in mammals is the
elaboration of this primitive response to make it faster and give it a
memory of "past trangressions".

I am sure that thinking of it in terms of a horror autotoxicus
to "healthy self" is both phylogenetically and functionally a "front
runner". It is basically "attack anything that doesn't have a healthy-
self signature".


Waterside Health Centre, SO45 5WX, UK
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