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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe hypersensitivity
  • Define autoimmunity

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. For instance, Streptococcus pneumoniae (the bacterium that causes pneumonia and meningitis) surrounds itself with a capsule that inhibits phagocytes from engulfing it and displaying antigens to the adaptive immune system. Staphylococcus aureus (the bacterium that can cause skin infections, abscesses, and meningitis) synthesizes a toxin called leukocidin that kills phagocytes after they engulf the bacterium. Other pathogens can also hinder the adaptive immune system. HIV infects T H cells using their CD4 surface molecules, gradually depleting the number of T H cells in the body ( [link] ); this inhibits the adaptive immune system’s capacity to generate sufficient responses to infection or tumors. As a result, HIV-infected individuals often suffer from infections that would not cause illness in people with healthy immune systems but which can cause devastating illness to immune-compromised individuals.

A colored scanning electron micrograph of a lymphocyte with cytoplasmic extensions, and many small spheres coming out of the lymphocyte and scattered around it.
HIV (green) is shown budding from a lymphocyte cell (red) in culture. (credit: modification of work by C. Goldsmith, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Inappropriate responses of immune cells and molecules themselves can also disrupt the proper functioning of the entire system, leading to host-cell damage that can become fatal.


Immunodeficiency is a failure, insufficiency, or delay in the response of the immune system, which may be acquired or inherited. Immunodeficiency can allow pathogens or tumor cells to gain a foothold and replicate or proliferate to high enough levels so that the immune system becomes overwhelmed. Immunodeficiency can be acquired as a result of infection with certain pathogens that attack the cells of the immune system itself (such as HIV), chemical exposure (including certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy), malnutrition, or extreme stress. For instance, radiation exposure can destroy populations of lymphocytes and elevate an individual’s susceptibility to infections and cancer. Rarely, primary immunodeficiencies that are present from birth may also occur. For example, severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) is a condition in which children are born without functioning B or T cells.


A maladaptive immune response toward harmless foreign substances or self-antigens that occur after tissue sensitization is termed a hypersensitivity    . Types of hypersensitivities include immediate, delayed, and autoimmune. A large proportion of the human population is affected by one or more types of hypersensitivity.

Questions & Answers

I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
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Source:  OpenStax, Disease and society background reading material. OpenStax CNX. Sep 08, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11706/1.1
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