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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970On-line version ISSN 1678-4758

Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos vol.3 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Mar./June 1996

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-59701996000100002 

ANÁLISE

 

Les métaphores de l'immunologie: guerre et paix

 

Metaphors of immunology: war and peace

 

 

Ilana Löwy

Ilana Löwy est directeur de recherche à l'Unité 158 de l'Institut de la Santéet de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U-158 INSERM Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades; 149, me de Sèvres, 74743 Paris— Ceclex 15 França

 

 


ABSTRACT

Immunology has always relied on metaphorical language. In its early beginnings, it varied between bellicose images and images that stressed the interaction of immunity mechanisms with the organism's physiological functions overall. In the late nineteenth century, white blood globules were not only compared to 'border police' assigned to rebuffing intruders— an army formed to combat the invaders — but were also described as a physiological mechanism for eliminating aged, dead cells, at times exterminators of foreign bodies.
Antibodies were described as very powerful, deadly weapons but also as an integral part of mechanisms that allowed cells to assimilate food. This duality of images holds true today. The article analyzes the emergence and development of these images, relating them to the redefinition of immunology as a science of the self and non-self and dissecting them in light of recent events, such as the Aids epidemic.

Keywords: immunologie, metaphors, regulation, infection, history of science.


RESUMO

A imunologia sempre recorreu a uma linguagem metafórica. Logo de início, ela oscilou entre imagens bélicas e outras que insistem na interação dos macanismos da imunidade ao conjunto das funções fisiológicas do organismo.
No final do século XIX, os glóbulos brancos eram comparados com uma 'polícia de fronteiras' encarregada de rechaçar os intrusos, com um exército formado para combater os invasores, mas também com um mecanismo fisiológico de eliminação das células envelhecidas e mortas, ocasionalmente exterminador de corpos estranhos, os anticorpos eram descritos como sendo armas muito poderosas e mortíferas, mas também como fazendo parte integrante dos mecanismos que permitem a assimilação dos alimentos pelas células.
Esta dualidade das imagens próprias da imunidade permanece ainda em nosso dias. O artigo analisa a emergência e o desenvolvimento dessas imagens, relacionando-as com a redefinição da imunologia como ciência do self e do não-self, dissecando-as enfim à luz dos recentes acontecimentos, tais como a epidemia de Aids.

Palavras-chave: imunologia, metáforas, regulação, infecção, história das ciências.


 

 

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Recebido para publicação em janeiro de 1996.

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