Immunology


Immunology is a branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms.[1] It deals with the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders (autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivities, immune deficiency, transplant rejection); the physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. Immunology has applications in several disciplines of science, and as such is further divided. Even before the concept of immunity (from immunis, Latin for "exempt") was developed, numerous early physicians characterized organs that would later prove to be part of the immune system. The key primary lymphoid organs of the immune system are the thymus and bone marrow, and secondary lymphatic tissues such as spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, and skin and liver. When health conditions warrant, immune system organs including the thymus, spleen, portions of bone marrow, lymph nodes and secondary lymphatic tissues can be surgically excised for examination while patients are still alive. Many components of the immune system are actually cellular in nature and not associated with any specific organ but rather are embedded o circulating in various tissues located throughout the body. Clinical immunology Clinical immunology is the study of diseases caused by disorders of the immune system (failure, aberrant action, and malignant growth of the cellular elements of the system). It also involves diseases of other systems, where immune reactions play a part in the pathology and clinical features. The diseases caused by disorders of the immune system fall into two broad categories: immunodeficiency, in which parts of the immune system fail to provide an adequate response (examples include chronic granulomatous disease), and autoimmunity, in which the immune system attacks its own host's body (examples include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto's disease and myasthenia gravis). Other immune system disorders include different hypersensitivities, in which the system responds inappropriately to harmless compounds (asthma and other allergies) or responds too intensely. The most well-known disease that affects the immune system itself is AIDS, caused by HIV. AIDS is an immunodeficiency characterized by the lack of CD4+ ("helper") T cells, dendritic cells and macrophages, which are destroyed by HIV. Clinical immunologists also study ways to prevent transplant rejection, in which the immune system attempts to destroy allografts.