Molecular Life Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Robert D. Wells, Judith S. Bond, Judith Klinman, Bettie Sue Siler Masters, Ellis Bell

Immunology and the Immune Response

  • James Marion
Living reference work entry


Immunology, a branch of biomedical sciences pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1796, investigates the ability of an organism to respond to antigenic challenge and differentiate between “self” and “nonself.” Building on the work by Jenner and other influential immunologists, Emil von Behring and Kitasato Shibasaburo developed the theory of how antibodies function in the late 1890s; at the same time, Elie Metchnikoff developed the theory of phagocytosis. The work of these scientists initiated studies of the adaptive and innate immune responses, respectively. Invading infectious agents first encounter the host innate immune system, present in some capacity in all multicellular organisms. Innate immunity does not recognize pathogen-specific antigens and consists of anatomical barriers (skin, cilia, mucus, peristalsis, etc.), commensal microbes (nonpathogenic bacteria producing antimicrobial substances such as bacteriocidins, cationic proteins, and lactoferrin), and antimicrobial...


Innate Immune Response Adaptive Immune System Pattern Recognition Receptor Diphtheria Toxin Urogenital Tract 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA