Immunodeficiencies - Introduction

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Immunodeficiency Diagram - Copyright nabrown RVC

Like any system in the body the immune system can go wrong. Autoimmunity is when the immune system begins to attack itself. Immunodeficiency is when the immune system fails to protect itself from disease.

If the immunodeficient defect is present at birth and is therefore a result of a genetic or developmental abnormality, it is called a primary immunodeficiency.

Secondary immunodeficiency, sometimes called acquired immunodeficiency, is the loss of immune function during life, caused by exposure to harmful agents.

Immunodeficiencies can be treated by the replacement of the defective or missing protein, cells or gene. However, in veterinary medicine, vaccinations and drugs are the most common treatments for immunodeficiency.




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  • Ivan Roitt: Essential Immunology, Ninth edition
  • Goldsby, Kindt, & Osbourne KUBY Immunology, Fourth edition

Lecture Notes

  • Dr Brian Catchpole BVetMed PhD MRCVS


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