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IMMU2101

2/3/15 – Notes

Theme 1: Basic Concepts in Immunology
Lecture 1: What Is the Immune System?
Learning Objectives
This lecture provides the foundation for the lectures that follow and is designed to introduce
you to some of the key features of the immune system
Learning Outcomes:
• To know what is meant by the terms: - “immunity” (resistance to disease),
- “The immune system” (A collection of cells,
molecules & tissues
that mediate resistance to infections & eliminates
tumours)
• To be able to recall & use unfamiliar immunological terms & concepts
• To know where the immune system is located
• To recall the name & function of the key cells (especially lymphocytes) and molecules (e.g.
cytokines) that
make up the immune system
• To be able to describe specific anatomical features as well as the function of the primary and
secondary
lymphoid organs
• To understand what antigens are and that different lymphocytes respond to different types
of antigens
based on their biochemistry
• To know that there are 2 different types of adaptive immune responses
- Cell mediated immune responses (mediated by T
cells)
- Humoral Immune Responses (mediated by B cells &
antibody)
Immune system: Cells and tissues that mediate resistance to infections and reduce tumours
Immunology: Resistance to disease  Specifically infectious diseases that are caused by
– Bacterial infections
– Viral infections
– Fungal infections
– Parasitic infections
– Congenital (primary) immune deficiency – patients who lack cells of immune system
– Acquired (secondary) immune deficiency – patients who have a disease, which destroys the cells which protect
the immune system e.g. HIV infections
– The immune system is everywhere – gastrointestinal, digestive, cardiovascular etc
– Immune cells are scattered around the body, and ‘migrate’ while ones which don’t really move around and stay
consistently in one part of the body are the ‘resident’ cells

The Anatomy of the Immune System
Physical and Chemical Barriers – Epithelial cells of skin, gut, respiratory tract
– Secretions (sweat, ear wax and tears), mucus in the nose, trachea and gut
– Urine and low stomach pH
The cells and molecules of the immune system move across most organ systems in the body by travelling via the
blood vessels and the lymphatic vessels. Immune cells originate from the bone marrow stem cells, where they will
mature, while others will leave and mature in other central or peripheral sites.
Central sites often refer to lymphoid tissues or lymphoid organs:
Primary lymphoid organs  Bone marrow, Thymus
Secondary/Generative lymphoid organs  Spleen, lymph node, mucosal and other lymphoid tissue
Peripheral sites refer to all other tissues and systems – Skin, liver, heart etc

There are two main types of Lymphocytes
– B lymphocytes: “B” because they were discovered in the “bursor of Fabricus”
– T lymphocytes: “T” because they mature in the thymus
– “Helper” T cell (TH)
– “Cytotoxic” T lymphocytes (CTL)

B Lymphocytes
– Derived from common lymphoid pregenitors in bone marrow, where they undergo maturation to form part of the

spleen) .IMMU2101 2/3/15 – Notes “humoral immune response”  main function of the humoral immune system is to secrete antibodies (which are proteins which bind to the extracellular antigens CD4+ T Cells – Helper T Cells (TH cells) are characterised by their surface expression of the CD4 molecule (CD4 + + T cells) – Help other cells of the immune system by releasing cytokines or via membrane bound molecules – Different types of TH cells exist with specialised functions  some CD4+ T cells suppress/regulate the immune response rather than activate the immune response CD8+ T Cells – Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are characterised by their surface expression of the CD8 molecule (CD8++ T cells) – Cyto (cell) toxic (killer) kills their target cells in a highly specific way  controlled killing – CTLs get help from CD4+ T cells which give them instructions on the target – CTLs play a key role in viral infections and anti-tumour immunity Antigens are substances that induce an immune response (they are immunogenic) e. lipids.g. carbohydrates. There are two major types of immune responses – innate and adaptive. spleen) – Found in the peripheral tissues Summary: The immune system is a collection of cells. A few amino acids or sugars only (these are called antigenic determinants or EPITOPES  the part of an antigen that is recognised by the immune system  particularly B and T cells to evoke antibody formation) Cytokines – Proteins that are produced and secreted by many different cell types – They can modulate inflammatory and immune reactions by  Activate or potentiate  Suppress or inhibit – Cytokines are a principal mediator of communication between immune cells – Cytokines can target cells in an:  Autocrine manner (acting on the cell that produced the cytokine)  Paracrine manner (acting on neighbouring cells)  Endocrine manner (acting on distant cells or systematically) Bone Marrow and Thymus – Primary Lymphoid Organs Immature lymphocytes – Do not have antigen specific receptors – Unable to respond to foreign antigens – Found in primary lymphoid tissues (bone marrow and thymus) Mature lymphocytes – Have functional antigen-specific receptors – Can respond to foreign antigens – Found in secondary lymphoid tissues (lymph nodes. proteins. Antigen–specific receptors on lymphocytes bind small parts of these molecules. Although the immune system can be found “everywhere” there are specific sites for generation and activation called lymphoid organs. molecules and tissues that mediate resistance to infections and eliminate tumours. chemical haptens.  Primary lymphoid tissues (bone marrow and thymus)  Secondary lymphoid tissues (lymph nodes.