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The speed of change: towards a discontinuity theory of immunity?

Pradeu, Thomas and Jaeger, Sébastien and Vivier, Eric (2013) The speed of change: towards a discontinuity theory of immunity? Nature Reviews Immunology, 13 (10). pp. 764-769. ISSN 1474-1733


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Immunology, though deeply experimental in everyday practice, is also a theoretical discipline.
Recent advances in the understanding of innate immunity, how it is triggered, and how it
shares features previously uniquely ascribed to the adaptive immune system, can contribute to
the refinement of immunology’s theoretical framework. In particular, natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages are activated by transient modifications, but adapt to long-lasting
modifications that occur in the surrounding tissue environment. This process allows the
maintenance of self-tolerance while permitting efficient immune responses. Extending this
idea to other components of the immune system, we propose here some general principles that
lay the ground for a unifying account of immunity, the discontinuity theory. According to this
theoretical framework, effector immune responses (i.e., activated responses that lead to the
potential elimination of the target antigen) are triggered by an antigenic discontinuity, that is,
by the sudden modification of molecular motifs with which immune cells interact.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Pradeu, Thomas
Jaeger, Sébastien
Vivier, Eric
Depositing User: Thomas Pradeu
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2020 02:35
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2020 02:35
Item ID: 18245
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Reviews Immunology
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: 2013
Page Range: pp. 764-769
Volume: 13
Number: 10
ISSN: 1474-1733

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