Adaptive and innate immune systems; overview


Adaptive and innate immune systems; overview

What are the adaptive and innate immune systems? Could the adaptive immune system operate without the innate immune system? Give at least 2 examples to support your answer. How would human health be impacted if the adaptive immune system failed?

Innate immune system refers to the defense mechanisms that act immediately or within a short period of time after an antigen has appeared in the body (Tavalai & Stamminger, 2011). The innate immunity is not specific. The activation of the innate immune response is through the chemical properties of the antigen. On the other hand, an antigen that has a specific immune response is referred to as an adaptive immune system.

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The interaction between the innate immune system and adaptive immune system is very crucial such that adaptive response cannot occur without an innate immune system. For instance, the recovery time for the flu, cold, and small infections is shorter when one has recovered for the first time (Uribe et al., 2011).

The adaptive immune system saves the human body from infections caused by parasites, fungi, viruses and bacteria among others. Therefore, humans are supposed to protect themselves from infections which are harmful invaders collectively called pathogens (Hansson & Hermansson, 2011). These infections can lead to death of an individual if the adaptive system fails. Unlike the innate immune responses the adaptive immune systems are more specific to the specific pathogen that induced them. For instance a person who recovers from measles is protected for life by adaptive immune system although it is not against other common viruses such as chickenpox or mumps.


Hansson, G. K., & Hermansson, A. (2011). The immune system in atherosclerosis. Nature immunology12(3), 204.

Tavalai, N., & Stamminger, T. (2011). Intrinsic cellular defense mechanisms targeting human cytomegalovirus. Virus research157(2), 128-133.

Uribe, C., Folch, H., Enríquez, R., & Moran, G. (2011). Innate and adaptive immunity in teleost fish: a review. Veterinarni Medicina56(10), 486-503.

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