Possible physiological functions

The MHC may also have additional functions which are not directly related to the specific immune response. There is support from both rat and mouse experimental systems for mating preference between MHC-different individuals. Perhaps particular MHC-peptide complexes have pheromone-like properties when, for instance, they are excreted in urine. If this is so, it would provide an obvious mechanism for promoting heterozygosity and thus polymorphism. One problem with this concept is that wild mice maintain in discrete populations, or demes, and tend not to mate with mice from a different deme that is in the immediate vicinity. Further functions for which some evidence has been presented in the past include an influence on patterns of lymphocyte recirculation and the capacity to influence the association of somatic cells other than T lymphocytes. However, there are now a number of other celi surface molecules that may be better candidates for such roles.

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