Impairment of any of the major components of the immune system (T-cells, B-cells phagocytes, complement) may result in clinical immunodeficiency. Immune defects can arise from intrinsic or heritable defects of lymphoid elements, failure of normal cellular differentiation, viral infection or other acquired causes. Clinical impairment of immunity is expressed as a marked susceptibility to opportunistic and pathogenic organisms which are difficult to control and by an increased risk of malignancy, allergy and autoimmune disease. Certain immunodeficiency disorders are associated with aberrant immune regulation. The major types of immune deficiency are characterized by unique patterns of infections depending on the level at which the defect occurs and the pathogenic mechanisms of the parasite. The basic defects of representative primary and secondary immunodeficiencies are discussed in relation to observed immunologic consequences.
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