The lymph as a pool of self-antigens

Trends Immunol. 2011 Jan;32(1):6-11. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Dec 1.


Prenodal lymph is generated from the interstitial fluid that surrounds organs, and thus contains products of organ metabolism and catabolism. New proteomic analyses of lymph have identified proteins and peptides that are derived from capillary extravasation and tissue-specific proteins. Many of these peptides are detected at nanomolar concentrations in the lymph before passage through a regional lymph node. Before entering the node and once inside, proteins and processed peptides are filtered from the lymph by circulating immature dendritic cells (DCs) or non-activated nodal antigen-presenting cells (APCs) (macrophages, B cells and immature DCs). Here, we suggest that this process ensures organ-specific self-antigens are displayed to circulating and nodal APCs, thus contributing to the maintenance of peripheral tolerance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Lymph / chemistry*
  • Lymph / immunology*
  • Lymphatic System / chemistry
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex
  • Peptides / analysis
  • Proteome / analysis*


  • Autoantigens
  • Peptides
  • Proteome