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Immunology of MS 

Immunology of MS
Chapter:
Immunology of MS
Author(s):

John Zajicek

, Jennifer Freeman

, and Bernadette Porter

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198569831.003.0003
Page of

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date: 19 August 2019

Basic immunology 14

Reasons for considering MS as an autoimmune disease 16

The immune system is broadly divided into two main arms: cellular immunity—where specific cells (mostly T-lymphocytes or T-cells) implement the immune response, and humoral immunity—where antibodies produced by B-lymphocytes (or B-cells) are the major effector mechanism. The immune response is directed against antigens on the surface of foreign cells, or components of foreign cells that are broken down and presented to T-cells at the T-cell receptor. Most cells in our bodies contain surface markers or antigens that enable cells and antibodies of our own immune system to recognize our own cells as ‘self?’, thereby avoiding attack from our own immune system. These cell surface markers are divided into class I and class II molecules, whose expression is determined by genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6. This lack of response to self-antigens is known as self-tolerance, and autoimmune diseases may occur when tolerance to self-antigens fails. The immune system is extremely complex, with multiple signalling processes occurring all the time. These signals may be mediated both by direct contact between cells (by cell surface molecules including adhesion molecules and T-cell receptors), and also by molecules secreted by neighbouring cells (including compounds such as cytokines and lymphokines). T-cells are at the centre of the immune response, and the interaction between T-cells and cells that present antigen at the T-cell receptor is sometimes referred to as the immunological synapse (see ...

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