Ontogeny Of The Immune Response

Constantin A Bona, Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Medical School, New York, USA

The acquisition by lymphocytes of the ability to mount immune responses is related to a series of complex cellular and molecular processes which take place during ontogeny. Lymphocytes are divided into two major functionally distinct but morphologically indistinguishable subsets: B and T cells. These are distinguished by different functions, but in the course of ontogeny their precursors can be distinguished by other phenotypic traits and molecular features.

Lymphocytes are derived from multipotent stem cells harbored in the fetal hematopoietic organs such as the fetal liver. During the differentiation process, multipotent progenitors give rise to the progenitors of B and T lymphocytes (Figure 1). In adult life, B cells differentiate in the bursa of Fabricius in birds and in the bone marrow in mammals, whereas T cells differentiate within the thymus.

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