Acquired Immunity: What Are The 3 Key Characteristics?

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Acquired immunity is one built in relation to the memory of the initial attack by a pathogen. It is normally robust and more efficient compared to the primary immune responses of the nonspecific immune system. The major distinctive features of this form of immunity are:

  1. Memory
  2. Specificity
  3. Recognition

Recognition

The acquired immunity can differentiate between self and non-self objects its components encounter within the body. For instance, if proteins are drawn from an individual and injected back to the same individual, no reaction is likely to be encountered, however, if proteins are drawn from one individual and injected into another, there is likely to be an immune reaction. This points to the fact the foreign objects can be identified and eliminated through the immune responses developed while tolerance may be generated depending on the degree of foreignness of the antigen.

Substances that can generate a specific detectable immune response are referred to as immunogens. And therefore, immunogenicity is dependent on:

  • Degree of foreignness of the substance
  • The molecular size of the immunogen
  • Chemical composition and texture of the immunogen
  • The route of administration or entry into the body
  • Genetic constitution and the age of an individual

Specificity

The induction of a specific immune response in the body depends on the recognition of antigens by the B and T lymphocytes. The B lymphocytes mature in the bone marrow and are responsible for antibody production while the T lymphocytes mature in the thymus, a region around the neck, and participate in the cell-mediated immune response.

The epitopes or the antigenic determinants are the regions in the antigens that interact with the recognition structures in the T and B lymphocyte to activate a specific immune response. For this to happen, the epitopes and the lymphocyte antigen recognition system must be structurally complimentary.

This is not the case for larger antigens, and therefore the antigen-presenting cells such as the monocytes are invited to process the antigens and present them in forms that can be easily recognized by the lymphocytes. This may involve proteolytic cleavage of the protein antigens or unfolding amino acid sequences rendering them accessible to the lymphocytes.

This is not the case for larger antigens, and therefore the antigen-presenting cells such as the monocytes are invited to process the antigens and present them in forms that can be easily recognized by the lymphocytes. This may involve proteolytic cleavage of the protein antigens or unfolding amino acid sequences rendering them accessible to the lymphocytes.

Memory

This property of the acquired immunity enables the immune system to quickly and specifically recognize an antigen that had been previously encountered and therefore initiate a stronger and more robust immune response against it. it is this concept of memory that immunization works on.