Immunology is a branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms.〔(Janeway's Immunobiology textbook ) Searchable free online version at the National Center for Biotechnology Information〕 It deals with the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders (autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivities, immune deficiency, transplant rejection); the physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system ''in vitro'', ''in situ'' and ''in vivo''. Immunology has applications in several disciplines of science, and as such is further divided.
Even before the concept of immunity (from ''immunis'', Latin for "exempt") was developed, numerous early physicians characterized organs that would later prove to be part of the immune system. The key primary lymphoid organs of the immune system are the thymus and bone marrow, and secondary lymphatic tissues such as spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, skin, and liver. When health conditions warrant, immune system organs including the thymus, spleen, portions of bone marrow, lymph nodes and secondary lymphatic tissues can be surgically excised for examination while patients are still alive.
Many components of the immune system are actually cellular in nature and not associated with any specific organ but rather are embedded or circulating in various tissues located throughout the body.
== Classical immunology ==
Classical immunology ties in with the fields of epidemiology and medicine. It studies the relationship between the body systems, pathogens, and immunity. The earliest written mention of immunity can be traced back to the plague of Athens in 430 BCE. Thucydides noted that people who had recovered from a previous bout of the disease could nurse the sick without contracting the illness a second time. Many other ancient societies have references to this phenomenon, but it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries before the concept developed into scientific theory.
The study of the molecular and cellular components that comprise the immune system, including their function and interaction, is the central science of immunology. The immune system has been divided into a more primitive innate immune system and, in vertebrates, an acquired or adaptive immune system. The latter is further divided into humoral (or antibody) and cell-mediated components.
The humoral (antibody) response is defined as the interaction between antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are specific proteins released from a certain class of immune cells known as B lymphocytes, while antigens are defined as anything that elicits the generation of antibodies ("anti"body "gen"erators). Immunology rests on an understanding of the properties of these two biological entities and the cellular response to both.
Immunological research continues to become more specialized, pursuing non-classical models of immunity and functions of cells, organs and systems not previously associated with the immune system (Yemeserach 2010).
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