Superantigens are a class of antigens that cause non-specific activation of T-cells and may have evolved as defense mechanisms of some pathogens against host immune responses. Responses to superantigens include polyclonal T-cell activation and massive release of cytokines, primarily interferon gamma. High levels of interferon gamma activate macrophages which produce proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha that can result in shock and organ failure.
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