Infectious Agents and the Human Immune Response

Immune response plays a vital role in protecting against infectious agents. It is the main impediment against the occurrence of disseminated infections that are usually associated with a high death rate. It is a well-known fact that for virtually all infectious diseases, the number of individuals exposed to infection is much higher than those actually presenting with a disease. This indicates that most persons are able to destroy these microorganisms and thus prevent the progression of an infection. By contrast immune deficiencies, whether of innate immunity (phagocytic cell dysfunction or complement deficiency) or adaptive immunity is strongly associated with increased susceptibility to infections.

Although immune response is fundamental for protecting against most infectious agents, evidence has been accumulating over the years as to how in many infectious diseases the main pathological aspects are not related to the direct action of an aggressor agent, but instead to abnormal immune response.