Basic Principles of the Immune System and Autoimmunity

  • Gilles F. H. DiercksEmail author
  • Philip M. Kluin


The immune system is composed of two closely collaborative systems, an innate and an adaptive system. The innate immune system is a constitutive present system that can act rapidly to eradicate microbes. The primary cells of the innate immune system are macrophages, granulocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. The adaptive system can be divided in a humoral and cellular response. The humoral response is characterized by activation of B lymphocytes with subsequent maturation into plasma cells and production of antibodies, whereas a cellular immune response is characterized by transformation of T lymphocytes into cytotoxic T cells, capable of killing virally infected cells.

Autoreactive B and T lymphocytes can induce autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune bullous diseases are the result of type II hypersensitivity, e.g., autoantibodies are directed against cell or matrix components. In pemphigoid diseases, antibodies are directed against hemidesmosomal components, whereas pemphigus is characterized by antibodies against desmosomal proteins.


Immune system Autoimmunity Pemphigus Pemphigoid 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Pathology and Medical BiologyCenter for Blistering Diseases, University Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenthe Netherlands

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