Difference Between Innate and Adaptive Immunity

The immune system is a combination of organs, cells, proteins and tissues. This system is responsible for protecting the body from foreign pathogens and also clearing away dead and malfunctioning cells. Currently, there are three types of immunity in humans – passive, innate, and adaptive. In this article, we shall discover the differences between innate and adaptive immunity.

Difference Between Adaptive Immunity and Innate Immunity

Innate Immunity

Adaptive Immunity

Definition

Innate immunity is general and non-specific, it is also the first line of defence against pathogens

Also called acquired immunity, this type of immunity is built up as we are exposed to diseases or get vaccinated.

Line of Defence

First line of defence

Second line of defence. If pathogens pass through innate immunity, then adaptive immunity kicks in.

Specificity

Non-specific

Specific

Response Interval

Short/ Immediate

Slower than innate

Potency/ Effectiveness

Low potency compared to adaptive immunity

Highly effective against pathogens

Inheritance

Can be inherited

Cannot be inherited

Memory

Cannot “remember” pathogens

Adaptive immunity can “remember” past pathogens that has been encountered

Formation/ Development

Present at birth

Develops over the lifespan of the individual

Distribution

Found in both vertebrates and invertebrates

Exclusive to vertebrates

Components

Skin, mucous, mucous membranes, epithelial cells, phagocytes etc.

Lymphoid organs that produce specialized cells called T cells and B cells

Example

A cut on the skin, if it results in swelling and inflammation, is an example of innate immunity at work.

Diseases like chicken pox enable the adaptive immune system to “remember”. Hence, the likelihood of contracting the illness is greatly minimized

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Frequently Asked Questions on Innate and Adaptive Immunity

What is the difference between innate and adaptive immunity?

Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defence against pathogens. It is general and non-specific, which means it does not differentiate between types of pathogens. Adaptive immunity is a type of immunity that is built up as we are exposed to diseases or get vaccinated. It is also called acquired immunity for that reason.

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