U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Date of this Version


Document Type



Current Opinion in Immunology, Volume 12, Issue 2, 1 April 2000, Pages 215-218


Innate immune responses to pathogens are believed to be patterned and stereotyped. Adaptive responses display variety but in relatively few types of products and with limited numbers of mechanisms. Is this apparent disparity between microbial pathogen diversity and a restricted set of host responses an accurate picture of infection or is it the result of a limited collection of analytic tools? DNA microarray technology permits one to address simple descriptive questions about global gene expression inside cells. In particular, it offers an opportunity to examine the relationship between host and pathogen in much greater detail than has been possible previously. One can now ask, firstly, how a host cell or organism ‘sees’ a microbial pathogen from the viewpoint of gene expression responses and, secondly, at what level it is able to discriminate between different agents. Other potential insights to be reaped include the identification of microbial determinants of the host response, the temporal features of the ‘conversation’ between host and pathogen, novel strategies for therapeutic and prophylactic intervention and prognostic markers of outcome.