Reptilia: Humoral Immunity in Reptiles

  • Laura M. ZimmermanEmail author


Reptiles are a diverse group which include four orders: Crocodilia, Testudines, Tuatara, and Squamata. Though they differ greatly in a number of characteristics, they tend to use their humoral immune response in a similar manner. Compared to mammals, reptiles tend to have a slower and less robust humoral immune response. Reptiles may instead rely on a non-specific component of the humoral immune response: natural antibodies. Phagocytic B cells have also been identified in reptiles, and further studies are needed to explore this additional innate-like function of the humoral response in a variety of reptiles. Because reptiles are ectothermic, temperature can impact their immune responses both during development and as adults. Their immune system is also strongly affected by season. In addition, because reptiles typically have long life spans and can have indeterminate growth, they are an intriguing taxon in which to study aging. Life-history characteristics of reptiles provide many possibilities for understanding the context in which the immune strategy of reptiles evolved and how they may respond to climate change and disease introduction.


Ectothermic vertebrates Reptile Antibodies B cells B-1 cells Natural antibodies Humoral immunity Aging Indeterminate growth 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Millikin University, Biology DepartmentDecaturUSA

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