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Sci Immunol. 2016 Jul 14;1(1). pii: AAG0479. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aag0479.

The discontinuity theory of immunity.

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ImmunoConcept, UMR5164, CNRS & University of Bordeaux, 33076 Bordeaux, France.
Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Université Aix-Marseille UM2, INSERM, U1104, CNRS UMR 7258, 13288 Marseille, France; Immunologie, Hôpital de la Conception, Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Marseille, Aix-Marseille Université, 13005 Marseille, France.


Some biological systems detect the rate of change in a stimulus rather than the stimulus itself only. We suggest that the immune system works in this way. According to the discontinuity theory of immunity, the immune system responds to sudden changes in antigenic stimulation and is rendered tolerant by slow or continuous stimulation. This basic principle, which is supported by recent data on immune checkpoints in viral infections, cancers, and allergies, can be seen as a unifying framework for diverse immune responses.

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