A new synthesis for antibody-mediated immunity

Journal name:
Nature Immunology
Year published:
Published online


The view that immunoglobulins function largely by potentiating neutralization, cytotoxicity or phagocytosis is being replaced by a new synthesis whereby antibodies participate in all aspects of the immune response, from protecting the host at the earliest time of encounter with a microbe to later challenges. Perhaps the most transformative concept is that immunoglobulins manifest emergent properties, from their structure and function as individual molecules to their interactions with microbial targets and the host immune system. Given that emergent properties are neither reducible to first principles nor predictable, there is a need for new conceptual approaches for understanding antibody function and mechanisms of antibody immunity.


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  1. Arturo Casadevall and Liise-anne Pirofski are in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.

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