Physiologic Autoimmunity and Preventive Medicine

The Integrative (Co-Operative and Defensive) Function of the Immune System and its Role in Preventive Medicine

Author(s): Zlatko Dembić

Pp: 21-45 (25)

DOI: 10.2174/9781608057245113010005

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The goals of preventive medicine from the immunologic perspective should continue to be aimed at increasing the number of vaccinations against dangerous infectious diseases and various types of virally-induced cancer. In the future, we can perhaps hope to find treatments that would prevent rejections of transplanted organs or even cure autoimmune diseases. These hopes are justified by well-documented research of immunosuppressive regulatory cells over the past decades. However, the missing link is the way how we can control them to do what we desire in each clinical setting. So far, all we therapeutically have is still an unsatisfactory crude “off-switch” for the immune system in terms of glucocorticoid hormones or other general immunosuppressants. We need better control at both, the intracellular and extracellular therapeutic levels. The help might come if we “think” before we try novel therapies. One way how we might improve planning research and clinical trials would be to see the function of the immune system from a different perspective. Here I try to help that by discussing various suggestions about how the immune system works. My suggestion is the Integrity hypothesis, which sees the role of the immune system in checking the normalcy of tissue architecture and communication. I propose that natural cooperation exists side by side with natural selection, so that the immune system represents a search engine for potential commensal microorganisms in addition to its defensive function.

Keywords: Immunity, function, theory, immunoregulation, Danger, Self-nonself, Integrity, Pattern-recognition, homeostasis, commensal, symbiont, co-operativity, rejection, protection, cancer, T-cells, B-cells, APC, DC, Treg.

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