Epitope mimics and determinant spreading: pathways to autoimmunity

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2000 Apr;57(4):569-78. doi: 10.1007/PL00000719.


Infectious microorganisms have evolved molecules which mimic the host in order to aid in their undetected propagation. In response, mammalian hosts have evolved a highly diverse immune repertoire designed to eradicate rapidly changing pathogens. The generation of diversity in the immune repertoire results in potentially damaging self cross-reactivities which require multiple regulatory controls to keep autoreactive lymphocytes in check. Here, we review how molecular mimicry at the T cell level might be important in the development of systemic autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Molecular Mimicry / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Autoantigens
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte