Morphostasis and Immunity

(version dated 11/1984)

This is the first tidy version of several papers with the same title. It still contains points that, I believe, are of importance.

In this article, I have introduced the idea of a "soma/scavenger" divide. "Parenchyma/scavenger" divide might be more appropriate. None of these descriptions is ideal. Perhaps "fixed tissue/mobile scavenger" divide is an improvement or "static tissue cell/invasive immune cell" divide. The important point is that defence cells must be kept to a minimal number and minimal aggression in healthy functional organs (muscle, tendon and blood vessels are included). The ingress and activity of scavengers/other immune cells are only ramped up when they are "invited" in and it usually starts with just phagocytes which then ramp up the recruitment of the other immune cells. Their influx leads to a loss of funtion: functio laesa.

"Morphostasis and immunity" - 1984.

Rejection notes:

These were Neils Jerne's comments comments on a version very similar (if not the same) as this one:

August 1983:

(To my mind a balanced and fair letter – excerpts shown here because they cover historical points – all my edits or comments are in red italics. Whilst Neils Jerne treated it as a submission, I had intended only to have him consider the value of the ideas.)

" . . .//. . . far-reaching theoretical construction from a few elementary concepts. . . .//. . . most important of these concepts is the "inversion" of T-killer cell functions . . .//. . ." (which is) "conferred upon phagocytic cells . . .//. . . "(which are regarded as) "intrinsically aggressive, but are triggered to non-aggressiveness by "recognising" self, or self/self, as you say" (this speculation later transferred to Tnk cells) ". . .//. . .This is only to emphasize that lymphocytes (the role of which you relegate to a slave function orchestrated by phagocytes) can be triggered when recognising non-self. You now introduce a "phagocyte receptor repertoire" which recognises self/self. You specify that "recognition" involves complementary molecules (ligands – receptors) which bind together rather like substrates to enzymes. I now repeat the argument I already made . . .//. . . namely: why should a "healthy self cell" be recognised, if the only action upon "recognition" must be to leave that cell in peace? I trust that you realise the cogency of this argument. "Recognition" requires ligand-receptor binding. Though this binding is reversible, we would have to accept that in a healthy animal, phagocytes are continuously engaged in binding and unbinding to and from healthy cells. A phagocyte that has just unbound from a healthy cell is quite likely to bind again to that same cell a moment later or, if it drifts away, to bind to another healthy cell, unbind, etc. I find this an unattractive concept. . .//. . . and I prefer to regard as the true elementary property of the immune system its ability to recognise non-self by members of its huge repertoires of molecular receptors. Thus I relegate the role of phagocytes to a "slave function" orchestrated by this enormous capacity of lymphocytes to recognise "foreign". I do not expect to convince you. Considering the large amount of synthetic thought that you have brought to bear on these problems, I would suggest that you submit your essay to another journal, such as the ****" .

I have added some text to help the excerpts flow; Neils Jerne's original text is distinguished by italics. The original text of his letter is reproduced below:

Another submission, shortly after the letter from Neils Jerne, was returned with these comments. Although eleven months earlier than this 11/1994 version, it probably contained a similar set of speculations.