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Innate immunity — phagocytes, natural killer cells and the complement system

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNijkamp and Parnham's Principles of Immunopharmacology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-10811-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-10809-0
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2019


In the second half of the nineteenth century, Eli Metchnikoff discovered that bacteria can be ingested (phagocytosed) by LEUKOCYTES present in the blood of a variety of animals. At about the same time, Paul Ehrlich found that certain agents dissolved in blood had bactericidal potential. The scientific discussion on the importance of cellular versus humoral factors in our defense against bacteria that followed came to an end when it was recognized that both components enforce each other’s effect within the context of the IMMUNE SYSTEM. In 1908, both scientists shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Further investigations on the nature and the working mechanism of the cells and the proteins that constitute our immunological defense system showed that each of these components is made up of several different constituents. In its turn, this led to the view that a functional distinction exists between the adaptive and the innate branch of the IMMUNE SYSTEM.

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