The Role of Antibodies in the Light of the Theory of Evolution

12 Pages Posted: 7 Jan 2021

Date Written: November 1, 2020


The phenomenon of facilitation of viral infections by antibodies (ADE antibody dependent enhancement) as well as the resistance of agammaglobulinemia patients to certain viruses are in contradiction with the protective role of antibodies affirmed by classical immunology. This must be compared to the opsonizing antibodies that promote the specific phagocytosis of extra-cellular bacteria. However, questions about the role of antibodies have been raised since the beginning of the history of immunology. More recently, Pierre Sonigo has shed light on the contradictions between the finalist interpretation of the role of lymphocytes and the theory of evolution: how can it be explained that cells are selected to protect the organism they constitute? The role of anti-viral and anti-intracellular bacteria antibodies could be to allow phagocytosis by the cells: either directly by the Fc fragment of immunoglobulins, or via the complement for many cell types. This makes it easy to understand the selection of antibody- secreting cells. Natural selection favors the cells that produce the most affine Ig and thus guides the maturation of the proB cell to the plasma cell. A review of recent publications in theoretical immunology is consistent with this hypothesis. The theory of evolution should be integrated at every level of research and teaching in immunology, as it is for biology as a whole.

Keywords: immunology, evolution, antibodies, virology, bacteriology

Suggested Citation

Banoun, Helene, The Role of Antibodies in the Light of the Theory of Evolution (November 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

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