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Toxicology. 1996 Feb 22;107(2):141-51.

T cell immune responses to haptens. Structural models for allergic and autoimmune reactions.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Immunbiologie, Freiburg, Germany.


Protein-reactive chemicals, metal salts and drugs, commonly classified as immunological haptens, are major environmental noxes targeted at the immune system of vertebrates. They may not only interfere with this defense system by toxicity alone, but more often by evoking hapten-specific immune responses resulting in allergic and eventually autoimmune responses. Here, we review recent developments in the analysis of the structural basis of hapten recognition, particularly by T lymphocytes, which represent central elements in cell-mediated, as well as in IgE dependent, allergies. A break-through in this field was the finding that T cells detect haptens as structural entities, attached covalently or by complexation to self-peptides anchored in binding grooves of major histocompatibility antigens (MHC-proteins). Synthetic hapten-peptide conjugates were shown to induce hapten-specific contact sensitivity in mice, opening new routes for studying hapten-induced immune disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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