How does the human immune system detect whether a protein happens to be a protein found in the body that is supposed to be there, a bacterial toxin that should be inactivated, an already inactivated toxin, or a harmless foreign protein? What mechanisms are responsible for being able to tell the different between these types of proteins and responding appropriately?

For instance, the Schick Test (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schick_test) determines whether an individual is susceptible to diphteria or not based on the fact that the body's responses to active diphteria toxin and deactivated toxin are different. How does the body know that the inactivated toxin is less harmful than the active one?


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