Systems Theory in Immunology pp 239-257 | Cite as

# A Mathematical Model of the Stable States of a Network Theory of Self-Regulation

## Abstract

The clonal selection theory of Burnet (1) is a generally accepted basis for an understanding of the immune system. A great deal of research is now being done to determine how, within the framework of clonal selection, immune responses are regulated. The phenomenology concerning regulation is complex, and it initially seemed that a proposal of Jerne (2–4) made the prospects for gaining an understanding of the system more remote than they were already. Jerne suggested that the essence of specific regulatory processes could lie in the fact that the V region of the antibody molecule can function as an antigen. This would mean that the injection of an antigen into an animal could potentially lead to a chain reaction; cells with a given V region would proliferate, and they could stimulate the proliferation of anti-V region specific lymphocytes, which would in turn induce anti-anti-V region cells, and so on. The interactions between the cells of the immune system via their V regions, involving both stimulatory and suppressive interactions, would lead to an equilibrium in the resulting network of lymphocytes and antibodies. An immune response would be viewed as a perturbation of the equilibrium, or as a shift of the system to a new equilibrium state.

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