Peripheral tolerance is the mechanism by which mature T cells that recognize self antigens in peripheral tissues are rendered incapable of subsequently responding to these antigens. Peripheral tolerance mechanisms may be responsible for T cell tolerance to tissue-specific self antigens, especially those that are not abundant in the thymus. The same mechanisms may induce unrespon-siveness to tolerogenic forms of foreign antigens. The mechanisms of peripheral tolerance are anergy (functional unresponsiveness), suppression, and deletion (cell death) (Fig. 14-3). We do not know if tolerance to different self antigens is maintained by one or another mechanism or if all these mechanisms function cooperatively to prevent dangerous autoimmunity.
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