The role of leukocyte antibodies in leukopenic states
Paul Ehrlich was the first to put forth the concept of the "horror autotoxicus", which is the inability of the body to form antibodies against its own components. A convincing demonstration of this concept is seen in the homograft reaction. Evidence has been accumulating for many years that under certain circumstances the body can respond immunologically to some of its own antigens. This topic is very controversial and none of the theories and proofs offered seem entirely adequate. Immunological studies have, however, established the phenomena of antibody production against foreign substances such as proteins, erythrocytes and bacteria. Yet, comparatively little is known about humoral immune systems involving nucleated mammalian cells, for example, the leukocyte, the epithelial cell and the fibroblast, to name only a few. The leukocyte is rather well adapted to investigation, as it is somewhat easier to obtain in pure form than most other body cells, and knowledge of its physiologic and biochemical properties is reasonably broad. Aberrations under the impact of an immune reaction are therefore amenable to investigation. The frequent occurrence of idiopathic leukopenias focused attention on the possibility of leukocyte antibodies. Many leukopenic states have no satisfactory scientific explanation and are potentially serious to the patient. An explanation of the mechanism of these leukopenic states may lead to proper diagnosis and therapy. It is also feasible that the understanding of leukocyte antigens might be of importance for the late results of bone marrow transplantation and also may have some bearing on the problems of tissue transplantation.
Master of Science (M.Sc.)