The S(c)ensory Immune System Theory

Trends Immunol. 2017 Oct;38(10):777-788. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Mar 7.


Viewpoints on the immune system have evolved across different paradigms, including the clonal selection theory, the idiotypic network, and the danger and tolerance models. Herein, we propose that in multicellular organisms, where panoplies of cells from different germ layers interact and immune cells are constantly generated, the behavior of the immune system is defined by the rules governing cell survival, systems physiology and organismic homeostasis. Initially, these rules were imprinted at the single cell-protist level, but supervened modifications in the transition to multicellular organisms. This context determined the emergence of the 'sensory immune system', which operates in a s(c)ensor mode to ensure systems physiology, organismic homeostasis, and perpetuation of its replicating molecules.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Clonal Selection, Antigen-Mediated
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Quorum Sensing
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism*
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • Symbiosis
  • Sympathetic Nervous System*


  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition