What is Adaptive Immunity

November 14, 2022

The immune system is incredibly complex and fascinating. The best sign of a well functioning immune system is the abscence of any symptoms. To keep you there, your body is constantly working and adapting to threats and protecting the body from harm. The threats can come from known and unknown dangers. So what is adaptive immunity and how does it play a role?
 
The two main types of immunity are innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate is the body’s natural defense against infection. Adaptive immunity, is a more specific response to an identified threat.
 
Adaptive immunity is specific to a particular pathogen and develops over time. When the body is first exposed to a pathogen, it takes a few days for the adaptive immune response to kick in. This initial response is called primary immunization.
 
So let us say you decided to visit the Fiji islands. They’re a bacteria that the local people had developed immunity for attacks you. Since the bacteria is foreign to you, you fall sick. Your body will produce antibodies that bind to the surface of the pathogen. By binding to the surface of the bacteria, your body is signalling to other cells to go to work and destroy it. This is primary immunisation.
 
The next time the body is exposed to that same pathogen, it will quickly produce more antibodies. Your body has remembered the pathogen and knows how to fight effectively. This is secondary immunisation.
 
There are two types of adaptive immunity: humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity. Humoral immunity is mediated by antibodies that are produced in response to a pathogen. Cell-mediated immunity is mediated by T cells that attack infected cells directly. Both types of immunity are important in protecting the body from pathogens.
 
Adaptive immunity is a vital part of the immune system. Think of it like a secondary defence wall in the event that the first wall was not effective at stopping an attack. Except in this case, it is a self-learning ecosystem.

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