Pathophysiology of Immune Response

The immune system (the cells and the molecules responsible for immunity) is defined as part of the host's defence against destructive forces either from outside the body (e.g., bacteria, viruses and parasites) or from within (e.g., malignant and autoreactive cells). Innate (natural) immune defences are those components of the immune system (macrophages, monocytes and neu-trophils) that function without relying on prior exposure to a particular antigen. They are the early phases of the host defence that protect the organism during the 4-5 days it takes for lymphocytes to become activated. Adaptive or acquired immune responses develop over the lifetime of a human being in response to environmental challenges (pathogens or antigens). Lymphocytes are the primary cells of the aquired immune system. The T lymphocytes can both modulate the function of other immune cells and directly destroy cells infected with intracellular pathogens. During development, each T cell generates a unique receptor by rearranging its receptor genes, enabling the cell to produce receptors with an almost infinite range of specificities. Once they are mature, T cells migrate from the thymus and perhaps the gut to the periphery, where they encounter antigens presented to them by specialised antigen-presenting cells in the context of a class I or II major histocompatibility complex molecule. An additional signal derived from B cells, macrophages, or dendritic cells is needed to induce lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation [7]. Today, the response by T cells is considered to be not only a factor in acute infections but also an integral component of biological processes such as development and ageing, as well as the pathophysiology of many chronic diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, cancer and cardiovascular diseases) [8].

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