IMR Press / FBS / Volume 4 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.2741/S341

Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

Peptide cross-reactivity: the original sin of vaccines
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1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Bari, Bari Italy

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2012, 4(4), 1393–1401;
Published: 1 June 2012

Recent numerous studies have demonstrated that an extensive peptide identity platform characterizes entities spanning the entire evolutionary arc from viruses to humans and establishes an immune cross-reactivity potential among viruses and bacteria, as well as between microbial organisms and humans. This peptide commonality presents obstacles to diagnostics, burdens therapeutic vaccinology with harmful collateral effects, and can result in autoimmune diseases. The present study 1) recapitulates the significance of cross-reactivity from the molecular mimicry hypothesis to the phenomenon of microbial immunoevasion; 2) analyzes the implications of cross-reactivity for the self-nonself discrimination issue; 3) highlights the negative role exerted by cross-reactions in translating immunology to effective vaccines; 4) outlines the vicious circle connecting peptide commonality, microbial immune escape, adjuvanted vaccines and autoimmune cross-reactions; and 5) conclusively indicates sequence uniqueness as a basic criterion for designing effective vaccines exempt from autoimmune cross-reactions.

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