The Immune System: Structure, Function, and Roles in Skin Disease

  • Raj Chovatiya
  • Oscar R. Colegio


The skin is a complex defense system composed of both passive barriers and active immune responses mediated by specialized hematopoietic cells. Consequently, dysregulation of the immune system, namely, through increased or decreased activity of these cells, plays an important role in numerous diseases of the skin. In this chapter, we review the basic mechanisms of the immune system, the organization of defense in the skin, and the functions of the major immunologic effector cells (neutrophils, macrophages, dendritic cells, mast cells, eosinophils, basophils, natural killer cells, T lymphocytes, and B lymphocytes). We specifically emphasize the relationship between cell activity and skin pathology and organize skin conditions by the cell type most responsible for the characteristic pathophysiology. By highlighting these broad themes, we aim to provide a unique framework for understanding dermatologic disease.


Innate immunity Adaptive immunity Hypersensitivity reaction Immunopathology Skin disease 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of DermatologyNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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