F1000Research (2016-05-01)

The natural defense system and the normative self model [version 1; referees: 2 approved]

  • Philippe Kourilsky

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 5


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Infectious agents are not the only agressors, and the immune system is not the sole defender of the organism. In an enlarged perspective, the ‘normative self model’ postulates that a ‘natural defense system’ protects man and other complex organisms against the environmental and internal hazards of life, including infections and cancers. It involves multiple error detection and correction mechanisms that confer robustness to the body at all levels of its organization. According to the model, the self relies on a set of physiological norms, and NONself (meaning : Non Obedient to the Norms of the self) is anything ‘off-norms’. The natural defense system comprises a set of ‘civil defenses’ (to which all cells in organs and tissues contribute), and a ‘professional army ‘, made of a smaller set of mobile cells. Mobile and non mobile cells differ in their tuning abilities. Tuning extends the recognition capabilities of NONself by the mobile cells, which increase their defensive function. To prevent them to drift, which would compromise self/NONself discrimination, the more plastic mobile cells need to periodically refer to the more stable non mobile cells to keep within physiological standards.