"From terra firma to terra plana –
danger is shaking the foundations: deconstructing the immune system"
This page includes a brief synopsis of the article "From terra firma to terra plana – danger is shaking the foundations. Deconstructing the 'immune system'." It was published in 1999.
Reproductions of the article
Synopsis and main points
- This article emphasises the "presumptions" that lead science up a blind alley
- It contends that we are on the edge of a true revolution in immunology
- It lists the tenets encompassed by the conventional view
- It proceeds to attempt to deconstruct the "immune system" and rebuild it into a "morphostatic system"
- It outlines the membership rules for living in the zygote derived colony
- It explores "why cell-mediated auto-aggression is so common"
- It brings all these former points and articles together in a "synthesis"
- It "rounds up" by showing that perspective radically alters our perception of things
- It proposes: "the system revolves around intracellular surveillance, within individual cells, for dysfunction. Dysfunction is identified by and within each and every nucleated cell of the colony. Danger is signalled when such cells cannot complete a successful and controlled shutdown as things go wrong."
- It moves: " . . towards the apotheosis" by pointing out how the danger concept can be replaced with the concept of mess (spilt cellular debris).
- It concludes: "In converting the analogy to a mess/non-mess discriminator, the whole Morphostasis hypothesis has been strengthened. In particular, the fulcral role of gap junctions has become much more secure. Once we chart the problems faced by an immune system and show how a morphostatic system resolves them, there is – I submit – no contest."
Please note that reference 6 was left out in the published article. Therefore, in the original, references number 6 to 18 in the bibliography should read 7 to 19 (in the body of the article the numbers are correctly presented). Reference 6 is in "A Sense of Self " . Please also note that there is also a "lapse of concentration" error at the top of page 216 (first paragraph where "irritable" bowel disease should read "inflammatory" bowel disease.
Things that I would (now) want to change:
In the section "Towards the apotheosis" I have put the following bullet point which would be better stated in the second (italicised) version:
- Metazoans never developed an immune system specifically dedicated to identifying foreign organisms.
- Metazoans never developed an (adaptive) immune system specifically dedicated to identifying foreign organisms.
It should also be emphasised that macrophages and other phagocytes act rather like primitive free living amoebae. In common with amoebae, phagocytes retain a primordially acquired capacity to recognise and ingest organic debris and micro-organisms; this is their original "diet"; it is their source of energy and nutrition. All specific microbe recognition arises from this primordial property and this is why phagocytes are recruited to the sites of damage (inflammation) to be first destructive and then constructive (the M2 phenotypes).