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Stochasticity Open Seminar May 3, 2017, 14:00

Open Seminars of the Research Group on


Stochasticity and Control in the Dynamics and Diversity of Immune Repertories: an Example of Multi-Cellular Co-Operation


Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 14:00

at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Room 128



Ecology resolves the complexity of immune self-tolerance


Uri Nevo (TAU) 


Immune tolerance towards “self” is defined as the critical property of the immune system avoiding attack on cells of the host. Self-tolerance is reflected in multiple observations, sometimes contradictory. Thus, despite of 70 years of study, self-tolerance is yet regarded a complex and an enigmatic property of the immune system.

In the following lecture I will present the Ecoimmunity theory. Ecoimmunity abandons the classical dogma of immune unresponsiveness by deletion, suppression or ad-hoc regulation. Instead, the complexity of immune self-tolerance turns into a particular case of the universal predator-prey interaction. The theory further proposes that a lifelong interaction shaped mainly during early ontogeny, leads to selection of nonimmune cell phenotypes and facilitates immune-tissue homeostasis.

I will outline the basic principles of the theory and will describe surprising predictions and our supportive evidence obtained by a set of experiments



Related Research Questions


  1. The immune system does not attack (it tolerates) the tissues of our body while attacking foreign pathogens (infectious bacteria/ viruses). How does the immune system tolerate (foreign) commensal bacteria?
  2. If an autoimmune disease is a scenario where the immune system becomes unregulated and goes crazy, why in most cases does the immune system attack only one tissue?
  3. If cells are organisms, where each acts as an independent agent, how do auto-reactive immune cells ‘agree’ to be turned off for their entire life time?


Suggested Reading


Experimental Support for the Ecoimmunity Theory: Distinct Phenotypes of Nonlymphocytic Cells in SCID and Wild-Type Mice.

Ochayon DE, Baranovski BM, Malkin P, Schuster R, Kalay N, Ben-Hamo R, Sloma I, Levinson J, Brazg J, Efroni S, Lewis EC, Nevo U.

Cell Transplant. 2016;25(8):1575-88.


The role of tissue adaptation and graft size in immune tolerance.

Hauben E, Roncarolo MG, Draghici E, Nevo U.

Transpl Immunol. 2007 Nov;18(2):122-5.


Ecoimmunity: immune tolerance by symmetric co-evolution.

Nevo U, Hauben E.

Evol Dev. 2007 Nov-Dec;9(6):632-42.



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