Molecular mimicry and multiple sclerosis: degenerate T-cell recognition and the induction of autoimmunity

Ann Neurol. 1999 May;45(5):559-67. doi: 10.1002/1531-8249(199905)45:5<559::aid-ana3>;2-q.


Various mechanisms have been proposed for the initiation of autoimmune responses by autoreactive T-cell clones. One of these, the molecular mimicry hypothesis, postulates that myelin-reactive T-cell clones are activated by foreign antigens. Until recently, sequence homology between self- and foreign antigens was considered necessary for cross-recognition to occur in multiple sclerosis. This article reviews current progress in T-cell receptor immunology that led to modify this view and proposes a role for degenerate T-cell antigen recognition in the induction of autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Mimicry / immunology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell