AskDefine | Define immune

Dictionary Definition

immune adj
1 relating to the condition of immunity; "the immune system"
2 secure against; "immune from taxation as long as he resided in Bermuda"; "immune from criminal prosecution"
3 relating to or conferring immunity (to disease or infection) [syn: resistant]
4 (usually followed by `to') not affected by a given influence; "immune to persuasion" n : a person who is immune to a particular infection

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Exempt from inclusion.
  2. Protected by inoculation.
  3. Protected due to innate resistance to pathogens.


exempt from inclusion
protected by inoculation
  • German: immun
protected due to innate resistance to pathogens
  • German: immun



  1. immune, exempt, free


Related terms

Extensive Definition

Immunity is a medical term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. Immunity involves both specific and non-specific components. The non-specific components act either as barriers or as eliminators of pathogens to stop infection by micro-organisms before they can cause disease. Other components of the immune system adapt themselves to each new disease encountered and are able to generate pathogen-specific immunity.
Adaptive immunity is often sub-divided into two major types depending on how the immunity was introduced. Natural immunity occurs through contact with a disease causing agent, when the contact was not deliberate, whereas artificial immunity develops only through deliberate actions. Both natural and artificial immunity can be further subdivided, depending on the amount of time the protection lasts. Passive immunity is short lived, and usually lasts only a few months, whereas protection via active immunity lasts much longer, and is sometimes life-long. The diagram below summarizes these divisions of immunity. A further subdivision of adaptive immunity is characterized by the cells involved; humoral immunity is the aspect of immunity that is mediated by secreted antibodies, whereas the protection provided by cell mediated immunity involves T-lymphocytes alone. Humoral immunity is active when the organism generates its own antibodies, and passive when antibodies are transferred between individuals. Similarly, cell mediated immunity is active when the organisms’ own T-cells are stimulated and passive when T cells come from another organism.

History of theories of immunity

The concept of immunity has intrigued mankind for thousands of years. The prehistoric view of disease was that it was caused by supernatural forces, and that illness was a form of theurgic punishment for “bad deeds” or “evil thoughts” visited upon the soul by the gods or by one’s enemies. Between the time of Hippocrates and the 19th century, when the foundations of the scientific method were laid, diseases were attributed to an alteration or imbalance in one of the four humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile or black bile). Also popular during this time was the miasma theory, which held that diseases such as cholera or the Black Plague were caused by a miasma, a noxious form of "bad air". The term “immunes”, is also found in the epic poem “Pharsalia” written around 60 B.C. by the poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus to describe a North African tribe’s resistance to snake venom.) written by the Islamic physician Al-Razi in the 9th century. In the treatise, Al Razi describes the clinical presentation of smallpox and measles and goes on to indicate that that exposure to these specific agents confers lasting immunity (although he does not use this term). In 1888 Emile Roux and Alexandre Yersin isolated diphtheria toxin, and following the 1890 discovery by Behring and Kitasato of antitoxin based immunity to diphtheria and tetanus, the antitoxin became the first major success of modern therapeutic Immunology. Passive immunity provides immediate protection, but the body does not develop memory, therefore the patient is at risk of being infected by the same pathogen later.

Naturally acquired passive immunity

Maternal passive immunity is a type of naturally acquired passive immunity, and refers to antibody-mediated immunity conveyed to a fetus by its mother during pregnancy. Maternal antibodies (MatAb) are passed through the placenta to the fetus by an FcRn receptor on placental cells. This occurs around the third month of gestation. IgG is the only antibody isotype that can pass through the placenta. It is also used in the treatment of several types of acute infection, and to treat poisoning. Subsequently the practice of vaccination would increase with the spread of war.
There are four types of traditional vaccines:
  • Inactivated vaccines are composed of micro-organisms that have been killed with chemicals and/or heat and are no longer infectious. Examples are vaccines against flu, cholera, bubonic plague, and hepatitis A. Most vaccines of this type are likely to require booster shots.
  • Live, attenuated vaccines are composed of micro-organisms that have been cultivated under conditions which disable their ability to induce disease. These responses are more durable and do not generally require booster shots. Examples include yellow fever, measles, rubella, and mumps.
  • Toxoids are inactivated toxic compounds from micro-organisms in cases where these (rather than the micro-organism itself) cause illness, used prior to an encounter with the toxiod. Examples of toxoid-based vaccines include tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Subunit -vaccines are composed of small fragments of disease causing organisms. A characteristic example is the subunit vaccine against Hepatitis B virus.
Most vaccines are given by hypodermic injection as they are not absorbed reliably through the gut. Live attenuated Polio and some Typhoid and Cholera vaccines are given orally in order to produce immunity based in the bowel.


immune in Arabic: المناعة
immune in Estonian: Immuunsus
immune in Modern Greek (1453-): Ανοσία (ιατρική)
immune in Spanish: Inmunidad (medicina)
immune in Latvian: Imunitāte
immune in Macedonian: Имунитет
immune in Portuguese: Imunidade
immune in Slovenian: Imunost
immune in Vietnamese: Miễn dịch

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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