Introduction

The ability of the immune system to discriminate between self and nonself is essential for health and is the basis for the phylogeny of immune development. In contrast, in the emerging field of tumor immunobiology, self-responses depend largely on the immunogenicity of the neoplasm. Immunogenicity, or self-determinant discrimination, is dependent on, or enhanced by, a combination of positive selection, an-ergy and/or negative selection, HLA function, and absence of inhibiting factors. The humoral immune system is initiated by cellular immune response and is not considered to be normally involved with effective antitumor responses, based on data from transfer experiments in which specific immunity could be demonstrated with transferred T cells but not with antibodies. Nonetheless, developmentally, both B and T lymphocytes are derived from a common stem cell and factors that influence their differentiation and maturation may explain some of the observational findings in patients with neoplasms.

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