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Trends Immunol. 2005 Jul;26(7):373-80.

Immunobiology of muscle: advances in understanding an immunological microenvironment.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Julius-Maximilians-University, Josef-Schneider-Strasse 11, D-97080 Wuerzburg, Germany.


Skeletal muscle, which is the largest cellular compartment of the body, lacks detectable MHC expression under physiological conditions. Therefore, immune reactions triggered by, or directed against, muscle cells proceed along specific pathways. Recently, the expression and functioning of classical MHC, non-classical MHC, adhesion and co-stimulatory molecules have been shown to support the concept that muscle cells can act as facultative antigen-presenting cells and should be considered as active participants, rather than passive targets, of immune reactions. Here, we summarize current knowledge on the immunological capabilities of skeletal muscle cells and discuss how these characteristics might contribute to inflammatory muscle disorders, as well as therapeutic strategies, such as gene or myoblast transfer.

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