The Physiology of Autoimmune Reactivities
The three years frequency of the International Immunology Congresses make them appropriate to consider the place of progress in a given area. This decade was certainly marked by the structural solution of the T cell receptor problem, first announced in Kyoto (1983). However, if less dramatically, the common sense in other central areas of Immunology has also significantly evolved. This is particularly evident in what concerns autoimmunity. While in 1980 (Paris), there was hardly any mention of autoimmune reactivities in normal individuals, we are starting the 1989 Congress with Symposium lectures on the physiology of autoimmunity. The previous decade had seen the isolation and description of very promising animal models of spontaneous and induced autoimmune diseases, an increasingly powerful technology, and the demonstrations that “important” diseases (e.g., diabetes) were actually autoimmune. Many immunologists were attracted to this area, and the greatest expectations could be entertained. The present consensus is less optimistic and, in spite of much work, it seems that we have advanced very little towards the goal of treating and/or preventing autoimmune disease. We do feel, however, that the increasing attention given to autoreactivities in normal individuals, and the shift in perspective that this implies, have opened new possibilities: we can now compare physiology with pathology of autoreactivity, while not longer than 10 years ago, we were trying to understand autoimmune disease with no information, not even consideration, of what the physiology of those processes would be.
KeywordsNormal Individual Natural Antibody Autoreactive Cell Natural Autoantibody Normal Immune System
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