Acquired Immune Response

Anne Sperling, Committee on Immunology, the Ben May Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Jeffrey A Bluestone, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

The development of immunity to a particular pathogen occurs after initial exposure to the antigen. The immunity is due to the development of an acquired immune response to the pathogen. A baby is born virtually immunologically naive. Maternal antibodies that have crossed the placenta provide transient protection from infection until the newborn's own immune system has developed sufficiently to mount an immune response strong enough and fast enough to protect against initial infection. After a primary immune response to a pathogen, an acquired immunity is developed such that any further infection by that pathogen is immediately controlled. The secondary or acquired immune response to the pathogen is more rapid and of greater magnitude and thus provides elevated protection against infection. From birth throughout a person's life, the immune system is continually responding to new environmental challenges (e.g. bacteria and viruses), and developing immunity to those challenges. The study of the acquired immune response is the basis of the science of immunology.

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