Immunity (medical)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In biology, immunity is the state of having sufficient biological defences to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. It is the capability of the body to resist harmful microbes from entering it. Immunity involves both specific and non-specific components. The non-specific components act either as barriers or as eliminators of wide range of pathogens irrespective of antigenic specificity. Other components of the immune system adapt themselves to each new disease encountered and are able to generate pathogen-specific immunity.

Innate immunity, or nonspecific immunity is the natural resistances with which a person is born. It provides resistances through several physical, chemical and cellular approaches. Microbes first encounter the epithelial layers, physical barriers that line skin and mucous membranes. Subsequent general defences include secreted chemical signals (cytokines), antimicrobial substances, fever, and phagocytic activity associated with the inflammatory responses. The phagocytes express cell surface receptors that can bind and respond to common molecular patterns expressed on the surface of invading microbes. Through these approaches, innate immunity can prevent the colonization, entry and spread of microbes.

Adaptive immunity is often sub-divided into two major types depending on how the immunity was introduced. Naturally acquired immunity occurs through contact with a disease causing agent, when the contact was not deliberate, whereas artificially acquired immunity develops only through deliberate actions such as vaccination. Both naturally and artificially acquired immunity can be further subdivided depending on whether immunity is induced in the host or passively transferred from an immune host. Passive immunity is acquired through transfer of antibodies or activated T-cells from an immune host, and is short lived—usually lasting only a few months—whereas active immunity is induced in the host itself by antigen and lasts much longer, sometimes lifelong. The diagram below summarizes these divisions of immunity.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Immunity (medical)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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