Exploring the Homeostatic and Sensory Roles of the Immune System

Front Immunol. 2016 Mar 31;7:125. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2016.00125. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

Immunology developed under the notion of the immune system exists to fight pathogens. Recently, the discovery of interactions with commensal microbiota that are essential to human health initiated a change in this old paradigm. Here, we argue that the immune system has major physiological roles extending far beyond defending the host. Immune and inflammatory responses share the core property of sensing, defining the immune system also as a sensory system. The inference with the immune system collects, interprets, and stores information, while creating an identity of self, places it in close relationship to the nervous system, which suggests that these systems may have a profound evolutionary connection.

Keywords: homeostasis; immune system; inflammation; information; nervous system; physiological role; sensing properties.

Publication types

  • Review