© 2016 Furusawa, Yamaguchi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The immune response by T cells usually discriminates self and non-self antigens, even though the negative selection of self-reactive T cells is imperfect and a certain fraction of T cells can respond to self-antigens. In this study, we construct a simple mathematical model of T cell populations to analyze how such self/non-self discrimination is possible. The results demonstrate that the control of the immune response by regulatory T cells enables a robust and accurate discrimination of self and non-self antigens, even when there is a significant overlap between the affinity distribution of T cells to self and non-self antigens. Here, the number of regulatory T cells in the system acts as a global variable controlling the T cell population dynamics. The present study provides a basis for the development of a quantitative theory for self and non-self discrimination in the immune system and a possible strategy for its experimental verification.
Furusawa, C., & Yamaguchi, T. (2016). Robust and accurate discrimination of self/non-self antigen presentations by regulatory T cell suppression. PLoS ONE, 11(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163134