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Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Feb;2(2):85-95.

Epitope spreading in immune-mediated diseases: implications for immunotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology-Immunology, Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center, Northwestern University Medical School, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Evidence continues to accumulate supporting the hypothesis that tissue damage during an immune response can lead to the priming of self-reactive T and/or B lymphocytes, regardless of the specificity of the initial insult. This review will focus primarily on epitope spreading at the T-cell level. Understanding the cellular and molecular basis of epitope spreading in various chronic immune-mediated human diseases and their animal models is crucial to understanding the pathogenesis of these diseases and to the ultimate goal of designing antigen-specific treatments.

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