Self antigens

Reference work entry




Self antigens are by convention antigens in the body of an individual. In regards to autoimmune diseases, they are those cellular proteins, peptides, enzyme complexes, ribonucleoprotein complexes, DNA, and post-translationally modified antigens against which autoantibodies are directed.

Full Text

Self antigens are not normally available to the immune system. Peripheral tolerance mechanisms include T and B cell apoptosis, anergy, ignorance, and suppresion of autoreactivity by other means. Infective or physical tissue damage, particularly in a genetically susceptible individual, or a defect in the phagocytic removal of apoptotic cells, may terminate immunological tolerance to self-antigens, leading to autoimmune disease. It is postulated that the state of ignorance, whereby antigen and lymphocyte have not come together to induce tolerance, may also provide an important mechanism whereby autoantibodies appear, leading to autoimmunity.


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© Springer-Verlag 2004