Immunodermatology: Dermatological Research


Immunodermatology studies skin as an organ of immunity in health and disease. Several areas have special attention, such as photo-immunology (effects of UV light on skin defense), inflammatory diseases such as Hidradenitis suppurativa, allergic contact dermatitis and atopic eczema, presumably autoimmune skin diseases such as vitiligo and psoriasis, and finally the immunology of microbial skin diseases such as retrovirus infections and leprosy.

New therapies in development for the immunomodulation of common immunological skin diseases include biologicals aimed at neutralizing TNF-alfa and chemokine receptor inhibitors. An immune response is a reaction which occurs within an organism for the purpose of defending against foreign invaders.

These invaders include a wide variety of different microorganisms including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi which could cause serious problems to the health of the host organism if not cleared from the body. There are two distinct aspects of the immune response, the innate and the adaptive, which work together to protect against pathogens. The innate branch—the body's first reaction to an invader—is known to be a non-specific and quick response to any sort of pathogen. Components of the innate immune response include physical barriers like the skin and mucous membranes, immune cells such as neutrophils, macrophages, and monocytes, and soluble factors including cytokines and complement.

On the other hand, the adaptive branch is the body's immune response which is catered against specific antigens and thus, it takes longer to activate the components involved. The adaptive branch include cells such as dendritic cells, T cell, and B cells as well as antibodies—also known as immunoglobulins—which directly interact with antigen and are a very important component for a strong response against an invader.

The first contact that an organism has with a particular antigen will result in the production of effector T and B cells which are activated cells that defend against the pathogen. The production of these effector cells as a result of the first-time exposure is called a primary immune response. Memory T and memory B cells are also produced in the case that the same pathogen enters the organism again. If the organism does happen to become re-exposed to the same pathogen, the secondary immune response will kick in and the immune system will be able to respond in both a fast and strong manner because of the memory cells from the first exposure. Vaccines introduce a weakened, killed, or fragmented microorganism in order to evoke a primary immune response.

This is so that in the case that an exposure to the real pathogen occurs, the body can rely on the secondary immune response to quickly defend against it. The innate immune response is an organism's first response to foreign invaders. This immune response is evolutionary conserved across many different species with all multi-cellular organisms having some sort of variation of an innate response.

The innate immune system consists of physical barriers such as skin and mucous membranes, various cell types like neutrophils, macrophages, and monocytes, and soluble factors including cytokines and complement. In contrast to the adaptive immune response, the innate response is not specific to any one foreign invader and as a result, works quickly to rid the body of pathogens. the adaptive branch is due to the fact that every B and T cell is different. Thus there is a diverse community of cells ready to recognize and attack a full range of invaders. The trade-off, however, is that the adaptive immune response is much slower than the body's innate response because its cells are extremely specific and activation is required before it is able to actually act.

In addition to specificity, the adaptive immune response is also known for immunological memory. After encountering an antigen, the immune system produces memory T and B cells which allow for a speedier, more robust immune response in the case that the organism ever encounters the same antigen again.


Annabel Rose

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