Mechanisms of immunological tolerance.
There is increasing interest in establishing diagnostic markers of immunological tolerance applicable to efforts to minimize drug immunosuppression in transplantation and chronic immunological diseases. It is hoped that an understanding of the diverse mechanisms that can contribute to tolerance will guide efforts to establish diagnostic tolerance biomarkers. Not only would these be valuable for management of autoimmune diseases, transplants and allergies, but they might also guide efforts to override tolerance processes in cancer and vaccine development. Where tolerance is generated by deletion or inactivation of antigen reactive lymphocytes, it is unlikely that any long-term-valid blood biomarkers might be found. Where tolerance is mediated by active regulatory mechanisms, indicators that can be usefully measured may emerge, but these would likely show significant heterogeneity reflecting the diversity of active tolerance processes operating in different individuals. Given this, the most useful "kits" might be those "smart" enough to detect this diversity of tolerance players.