Regulation of the Immune Response: A Discrete Mapping Approach
Experimental studies have shown that prior exposure of a host to antigen modifies its subsequent antibody-response to the same antigen. In particular, low or high primary antigen doses can lead to reduced secondary responses, while medium doses increase the sensitivity to a next challenge /1,2/. In more general terms, a first encounter of a host with antigen can induce either a state of immunological memory or a state of immunological paralysis, depending on the nature or form of the antigen, on the dose and the way in which it is administered, and on the state of the host. Both these memory and paralysis phenomena reflect the behavior of the cells that interact in the course of an immune response, namely the B and T lymphocytes. B lymphocytes repond to antigen by proliferating and differentiating to plasma cells, the terminal antibody producing cells. T lymphocytes function as regulatory cells and can be classified into T helper cells (TH) which cooperate with the B cells to bring about an effective response, and T suppressor cells (TS) which exert inhibitory effects thereby contributing to the decay in time of the response. The outcome of an immune response should depend crucially on the balance between these two competing effects.
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