Immunology for Non-Immunologists: Innate vs. Adaptive Immunity

Scientific studies directly or indirectly involving human immunity require an understanding of both sides of the complex system. Even the development of an adaptive antigen-specific cell-based therapy requires components of the innate immune system that work in concert with the adaptive cells.

If you don’t work primarily in immunology, this post will give you a basic understanding of each part of the immune system and the cell functions involved in defending the body from foreign cells.

Innate Immune System

The innate immune system is responsible for rapid, non-specific response to any foreign body. A simple example is white blood cells rushing to the site of a laceration to stave off infection.

Key components of the innate immune system include leukocytes, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and plasma proteins — all acting as front-line defenders against pathogens.

While innate immunity mounts a general response to any antigen, adaptive immunity responds to specific antigens.

Adaptive Immune System

The adaptive immune system is responsible for antigen-specific immune responses and includes certain immune cells (like B cells and T cells) that are designed to recognize and attack that antigen.

A key role of the adaptive immune system is building a memory bank of antigens for easier recognition and attack of the same antigens in the event of future exposure. While the initial response to an antigen can be slow, subsequent responses are much faster and stronger due to this memory effect.

Helper T cells (CD4+ T cells) are critical to the function of the adaptive immune system as they activate B cells, macrophages, and cytotoxic T cells to perform their required functions to attack the antigen while also reducing autoimmunity.

Cytotoxic T cells (CD8+ T cells) are responsible for destroying infected or damaged cells, cancer cells, and foreign cells, such as those in transplanted organs. Sometimes the cytotoxic T cell response needs to be regulated to dampen the immune response, as in the organ transplant example.

B cells (B Cells) produce antibodies that tag specific pathogens for destruction by components of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

Astarte Cells in the Immune System

The actual functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems are much more complex than these simple examples. We offer human immune cells that originate in both the innate and adaptive immune systems for applications in all areas of immunology, immuno-oncology, and virology research. Some cells, like natural killer cells, have been observed to display both innate and adaptive immunity.  

Whether your research focuses on innate or adaptive immunity, we have the immune cells you need.

Shop Characterized Immune Cells

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.