The Three Major Paradigms in Immunology

  • Walter Gottlieb Land


In this chapter, the three major paradigms in modern immunology are briefly introduced. It begins with a brief description of the “self/nonself discrimination, Clonal Selection Theory,” proposed by Burnet in the mid-1990s. This model can be regarded as the foundation of modern immunology holding that any invading foreign agent, any nonself element, for example, bacteria and viruses, triggers an immune response. This traditional concept in immunology was complemented and modified by the “Pattern Recognition Theory” proposed by Janeway about 40 years later. This model correctly proposed that another immune system must exist preceding the adaptive immune system, called the innate immune system. As the core of this model, cells of this innate immune system express peculiar receptors, the “pattern recognition receptors” which possess the ability to recognize conserved molecular patterns derived from pathogens, the “pathogen-associated molecular patterns.” The recognition process then elicits an inflammatory anti-pathogen defense response. This model was again complemented and modified by Matzinger and Land now holding that the immune system does not discriminate between self and nonself to respond to nonself only, but its evolutionarily determined driving force is to recognize, to become alarmed by, and to respond to any form of cell stress and/or tissue injury including pathogen-caused infectious injury. Pattern recognition molecules of cells of the innate immune system perceive this dangerous injury via recognition of “damage-associated molecular patterns” to elicit an inflammatory antistress/injury defense response. In the presence of nonself or altered-self antigens, antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells get activated to initiate a specific adaptive immune response.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of StrasbourgMolecular ImmunoRheumatology, Laboratory of Excellence TransplantexStrasbourgFrance

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