network theory

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network theory

A theory, advanced by Niels Jerne and Geoffrey Hoffman, that explains the ability of the immune response to regulate itself. According to the theory, lymphocytes form a network of cells bearing idiotypes, each capable of eliciting anti-idiotype antibodies; each “new” antigen disrupts the balance of an immune network by stimulating an antibody response, which then elicits an anti-idiotype-antibody response, followed by further anti-idiotypes, attenuating and eventually quenching the response to bring the system back into balance. Each antigen receptor or idiotype (of either a T or B cell) is capable of evoking the production of anti-idiotypic cells; these cells, or their products, act to downregulate the production of the original idiotype.