Immunology is strongly experimental in everyday practice but is also characterized by an ongoing theoretical attitude. Many theories have been suggested in immunology from the end of the nineteenth century up to the present time. The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century saw a battle between “cellular” and “humoral” theories of immunity. According to the cellular theory of immunity, represented in particular by Elie Metchnikoff, it was cells – more precisely, phagocytes – that were responsible for immune responses. In contrast, the humoral theory of immunity, held by Robert Koch and Emil von Behring, among others, stated that the active immune agents were soluble components (molecules) found in the organism’s “humors” rather than its cells.
In the mid-1950s, Macfarlane Burnet, inspired by a suggestion made by Niels Jerne,formulated the clonal selection theory (CST) of immunity. On the basis of CST, Burnet developed a theory of how an immune response is triggered according to the self/nonself distinction: “self” constituents (constituents of the body) do not trigger destructive immune responses, while “nonself” entities (e.g., pathogens, an allograft) trigger a destructive immune response. The theory was later modified to reflect new discoveries regarding histocompatibility or the complex “two-signal” activation of T cells. The self/nonself theory of immunity and the self/nonself vocabulary have been criticized, but remain very influential.
More recently, several theoretical frameworks have been suggested in immunology, including “autopoietic” views, “cognitive immune” views, the “danger model” (or “danger theory”), and the “discontinuity” theory. The danger model, suggested by Polly Matzinger and colleagues, has been very influential, arousing many comments and discussion
Immunology is a branch of biology that covers the study of immune systems in all organisms. It was the Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov who boosted studies on immunology, and received the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his work. He jabbed the thorn of a rose on a starfish and noted that, 24 hours later, cells were surrounding the tip. It was an active response of the body, trying to maintain its integrity. It was Mechnikov who first observed the phenomenon of phagocytosis, in which the body defends itself against a foreign body, and coined the term. Immunology charts, measures, and contextualizes the: physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders (such as autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivities, immune deficiency, and transplant rejection); the physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. Immunology has applications in numerous disciplines of medicine, particularly in the fields of organ transplantation, oncology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology, psychiatry, and dermatology.
Prior to the designation of immunity from the etymological root immunis, which is Latin for “exempt”; early physicians characterized organs that would later be proven as essential components of the immune system. The important lymphoid organs of the immune system are the thymus and bone marrow, and chief lymphatic tissues such as spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, and liver. When health conditions worsen to emergency status, portions of immune system organs including the thymus, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and other lymphatic tissues can be surgically excised for examination while patients are still alive.
Many components of the immune system are typically cellular in nature and not associated with any specific organ; but rather are embedded or circulating in various tissues located throughout the body
Janeway CA Jr
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