Epitope spreading in immune-mediated diseases: implications for immunotherapy

Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Feb;2(2):85-95. doi: 10.1038/nri724.


Evidence continues to accumulate supporting the hypothesis that tissue damage during an immune response can lead to the priming of self-reactive T and/or B lymphocytes, regardless of the specificity of the initial insult. This review will focus primarily on epitope spreading at the T-cell level. Understanding the cellular and molecular basis of epitope spreading in various chronic immune-mediated human diseases and their animal models is crucial to understanding the pathogenesis of these diseases and to the ultimate goal of designing antigen-specific treatments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Rejection / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology*
  • Immune System Diseases / therapy
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Myasthenia Gravis / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / immunology
  • Vaccination


  • Epitopes