Sunday, 13 March 2011


Microorganisms or toxins that successfully enter an organism will encounter the cells and mechanisms of the innate immune system. The innate response is usually triggered when microbes are identified by pattern recognition receptors, which recognize components that are conserved among broad groups of microorganisms,[26] or when damaged, injured or stressed cells send out alarm signals, many of which (but not all) are recognized by the same receptors as those that recognize pathogens.[27] Innate immune defenses are non-specific, meaning these systems respond to pathogens in a generic way.[14] This system does not confer long-lasting immunity against a pathogen. The innate immune system is the dominant system of host defense in most organisms.[11]
 Humoral and chemical barriers
For more details on this topic, see Humoral immunity.
For more details on this topic, see Inflammation.

Inflammation is one of the first responses of the immune system to infection.[28] The symptoms of inflammation are redness and swelling, which are caused by increased blood flow into a tissue. Inflammation is produced by eicosanoids and cytokines, which are released by injured or infected cells. Eicosanoids include prostaglandins that produce fever and the dilation of blood vessels associated with inflammation, and leukotrienes that attract certain white blood cells (leukocytes).[29][30] Common cytokines include interleukins that are responsible for communication between white blood cells; chemokines that promote chemotaxis; and interferons that have anti-viral effects, such as shutting down protein synthesis in the host cell.[31] Growth factors and cytotoxic factors may also be released. These cytokines and other chemicals recruit immune cells to the site of infection and promote healing of any damaged tissue following the removal of pathogens.[32]
 Complement system
For more details on this topic, see Complement system.

The complement system is a biochemical cascade that attacks the surfaces of foreign cells. It contains over 20 different proteins and is named for its ability to “complement” the killing of pathogens by antibodies. Complement is the major humoral component of the innate immune response.[33][34] Many species have complement systems, including non-mammals like plants, fish, and some invertebrates.[35]

In humans, this response is activated by complement binding to antibodies that have attached to these microbes or the binding of complement proteins to carbohydrates on the surfaces of microbes. This recognition signal triggers a rapid killing response.[36] The speed of the response is a result of signal amplification that occurs following sequential proteolytic activation of complement molecules, which are also proteases. After complement proteins initially bind to the microbe, they activate their protease activity, which in turn activates other complement proteases, and so on. This produces a catalytic cascade that amplifies the initial signal by controlled positive feedback.[37] The cascade results in the production of peptides that attract immune cells, increase vascular permeability, and opsonize (coat) the surface of a pathogen, marking it for destruction. This deposition of complement can also kill cells directly by disrupting their plasma membrane.[33]
 Cellular barriers
A scanning electron microscope image of normal circulating human blood. One can see red blood cells, several knobby white blood cells including lymphocytes, a monocyte, a neutrophil, and many small disc-shaped platelets.

Leukocytes (white blood cells) act like independent, single-celled organisms and are the second arm of the innate immune system.[14] The innate leukocytes include the phagocytes (macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells), mast cells, eosinophils, basophils, and natural killer cells. These cells identify and eliminate pathogens, either by attacking larger pathogens through contact or by engulfing and then killing microorganisms.[35] Innate cells are also important mediators in the activation of the adaptive immune system.[12]

Phagocytosis is an important feature of cellular innate immunity performed by cells called 'phagocytes' that engulf, or eat, pathogens or particles. Phagocytes generally patrol the body searching for pathogens, but can be called to specific locations by cytokines.[14] Once a pathogen has been engulfed by a phagocyte, it becomes trapped in an intracellular vesicle called a phagosome, which subsequently fuses with another vesicle called a lysosome to form a phagolysosome. The pathogen is killed by the activity of digestive enzymes or following a respiratory burst that releases free radicals into the phagolysosome.[38][39] Phagocytosis evolved as a means of acquiring nutrients, but this role was extended in phagocytes to include engulfment of pathogens as a defense mechanism.[40] Phagocytosis probably represents the oldest form of host defense, as phagocytes have been identified in both vertebrate and invertebrate animals.[41]

Neutrophils and macrophages are phagocytes that travel throughout the body in pursuit of invading pathogens.[42] Neutrophils are normally found in the bloodstream and are the most abundant type of phagocyte, normally representing 50% to 60% of the total circulating leukocytes.[43] During the acute phase of inflammation, particularly as a result of bacterial infection, neutrophils migrate toward the site of inflammation in a process called chemotaxis, and are usually the first cells to arrive at the scene of infection. Macrophages are versatile cells that reside within tissues and produce a wide array of chemicals including enzymes, complement proteins, and regulatory factors such as interleukin 1.[44] Macrophages also act as scavengers, ridding the body of worn-out cells and other debris, and as antigen-presenting cells that activate the adaptive immune system.[12]

Dendritic cells (DC) are phagocytes in tissues that are in contact with the external environment; therefore, they are located mainly in the skin, nose, lungs, stomach, and intestines.[45] They are named for their resemblance to neuronal dendrites, as both have many spine-like projections, but dendritic cells are in no way connected to the nervous system. Dendritic cells serve as a link between the bodily tissues and the innate and adaptive immune systems, as they present antigen to T cells, one of the key cell types of the adaptive immune system.[45]

Mast cells reside in connective tissues and mucous membranes, and regulate the inflammatory response.[46] They are most often associated with allergy and anaphylaxis.[43] Basophils and eosinophils are related to neutrophils. They secrete chemical mediators that are involved in defending against parasites and play a role in allergic reactions, such as asthma.[47] Natural killer (NK cells) cells are leukocytes that attack and destroy tumor cells, or cells that have been infected by viruses

No comments:

Post a Comment