A new vision of immunity: homeostasis of the superorganism

Mucosal Immunol. 2010 Sep;3(5):450-60. doi: 10.1038/mi.2010.20. Epub 2010 May 5.


The immune system is commonly perceived as an army of organs, tissues, cells, and molecules that protect from disease by eliminating pathogens. However, as in human society, a clear definition of good and evil might be sometimes difficult to achieve. Not only do we live in contact with a multitude of microbes, but we also live with billions of symbionts that span all the shades from mutualists to potential killers. Together, we compose a superorganism that is capable of optimal living. In that context, the immune system is not a killer, but rather a force that shapes homeostasis within the superorganism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / immunology
  • Animals
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Metagenome
  • Symbiosis / immunology*
  • Systems Theory