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Biology LibreTexts

17: The Immune System and Disease

  • 17.1: Viruses
    Viruses are acellular, parasitic entities that are not classified within any domain because they are not considered alive. They have no plasma membrane, internal organelles, or metabolic processes, and they do not divide. Instead, they infect a host cell and use the host’s replication processes to produce progeny virus particles. Viruses infect all forms of organisms including bacteria, archaea, fungi, plants, and animals.
  • 17.2: Innate Immunity
    Innate immunity is not caused by an infection or vaccination and depends initially on physical and chemical barriers that work on all pathogens, sometimes called the first line of defense. The second line of defense of the innate system includes chemical signals that produce inflammation and fever responses as well as mobilizing protective cells and other chemical defenses.
  • 17.3: Adaptive Immunity
    The adaptive immune response is a slower-acting, longer-lasting, and more specific response than the innate response. However, the adaptive response requires information from the innate immune system to function. APCs display antigens on MHC molecules to naïve T cells. T cells with cell-surface receptors that bind a specific antigen will bind to that APC. In response, the T cells differentiate and proliferate.
  • 17.4: Disruptions in the Immune System
    A functioning immune system is essential for survival, but even the sophisticated cellular and molecular defenses of the mammalian immune response can be defeated by pathogens at virtually every step. In the competition between immune protection and pathogen evasion, pathogens have the advantage of more rapid evolution because of their shorter generation time, large population sizes and often higher mutation rates. Thus pathogens have evolved a diverse array of immune escape mechanisms.
  • 17.E: The Immune System and Desease (Exercises)

Thumbnail: The biohazard symbol was developed by the Dow Chemical Company in 1966 for their containment products. It is used in the labeling of biological materials that carry a significant health risk. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Silsor).