Clinical immunology is the study of diseases caused by disorders of the immune system (failure, aberrant action, and malignant growth of the cellular elements of the system). It also involves diseases of other systems, where immune reactions play a part in the pathology and clinical features.
The diseases caused by disorders of the immune system fall into two broad categories:
immunodeficiency, in which parts of the immune system fail to provide an adequate response (examples include chronic granulomatous disease and primary immune diseases); autoimmunity, in which the immune system attacks its own host’s body (examples include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s disease and myasthenia gravis).
Other immune system disorders include various hypersensitivities (such as in asthma and other allergies) that respond inappropriately to otherwise harmless compounds. The most well-known disease that affects the immune system itself is AIDS, an immunodeficiency characterized by the suppression of CD4+ (“helper”) T cells, dendritic cells and macrophages by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Clinical immunologists also study ways to prevent the immune system’s attempts to destroy allografts (transplant rejection).
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