Immunological tolerance is the ability of an individual's immune system to ignore “self” while reacting to “non-self” organisms and substances.
The system is extremely complex, and needs to somehow set a balance between being able to accurately sense and eradicate “non-self” entities, whilst leaving the “self” cells etc. untouched.
Malfunctions of the system, in which it over-sensitively targets “self” structures, are believed to be of profound importance with autoimmune diseases such asand etc.
The mechanisms by which immunological tolerance is maintained in balance (and how it sometimes goes out of balance) are unclear. There are currently five main theories which attempt an explanation.
The 'clonal deletion theory', the 'clonal anergy theory', the 'idiotype network theory', the 'clonal ignorance theory', and the 'suppressor population theory'. For details, see: Wikipedia
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