"Danger" or "Alarm"?

Jay Mone jaymone at paonline.com
Sat Feb 19 22:50:31 EST 2000


Antibodies are an example of how the idea of self and non-self can blur.
Each antibody specificity that is made is a unique protein, never before
seen by the immune system.  Antibodies, then, might be thought of as
non-self, yet they play an important protective role for the body.  Even as
they play this role, however, they are recognized as foreign, and
anti-antibodies are produced.  These Abs are known as anti-idiotype Abs, and
are specific for the variable (idiotypic) regions of the Ab molecule.  This
immune recognition is important because idiotype cascades play a role in
regulating Ab synthesis.
So are Abs self, or non-self?  Can we still say that non-self is dangerous?
Can we even say that the anti-id response is an alarm, or a call to action?
I think whether you use alarm, danger, or any other word must depend on the
nature of the antigen.

Jay Mone'
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