Mechanisms of self-nonself discrimination and possible clinical relevance

Immunotherapy. 2009 Jul;1(4):631-44. doi: 10.2217/imt.09.29.


This review discusses different mechanisms that result in immunological tolerance, such as intrathymic deletion of immature T cells, intrathymic and extrathymic generation of regulatory T cells, effector mechanisms of regulatory T cells as well as molecular pathways involved in extrathymic generation of regulatory T cells in vivo and in vitro. These molecular mechanisms should enable investigators to develop clinical protocols aiming at the specific prevention of unwanted immune responses, thereby replacing indiscriminate immunosuppression that often has fatal consequences.

Keywords: Foxp3; TGF-β; conversion; recessive and dominant tolerance; regulatory T cell; self–nonself discrimination; suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphopoiesis* / genetics
  • Lymphopoiesis* / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • Autoantigens
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta