Using a simple mathematical model of the Jerne network, we investigate the conditions of antigen presentation that result in tolerance to pairs of antigens with complementary shapes, such as hormones and receptors. This study is motivated by the prevalence of auto-immune diseases involving hormones and hormone or neurotransmitter receptors as self-antigens. The model shows that, in order to ensure full tolerance to coupled antigens in those conditions that ensure tolerance to isolated antigens, both antigens have to be presented simultaneously in similar conditions. This result suggests a possibility for preventing some auto-immune diseases.
Bull. Math. Biol.