03766 - Immunology (LZ-A)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Medicine and Surgery (cod. 8415)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student knows the basis of the immune system as a fundamental defense system and its alterations as cause of disease. The student can also apply the knowledge of the basic mechanisms of the immune system and its alterations to specific diseases.

Course contents

General properties of the immune system. Nomenclature, cells of the immune system. Primary and secondary lymphoid organs. Anatomy and functions of lymphoid tissues.

Leukocyte recruitment in the tissues and their recirculation in the lymphoid organs. Adhesion molecules, chemokines and leukocyte migration.

Innate immunity. Epithelial barriers. The phagocytes: neutrophils and macrophages. Phagocytosis, bactericidal activity. Dendritic cells. Natural Killer cells. The complement system. Receptors of innate immunity: PRR (Pattern Recognition Receptors). Innate immune system cytokines (interleukins and interferons). Role of innate immunity in the stimulation of the adaptive immune responses.

Adaptive immunity. Antigen and its features. Structure, development and function of the lymphocyte receptors for the antigen: immunoglobulins and T cell receptor (TCR). Mechanisms of recombination of the genes of immunoglobulins and of the TCR. Intracellular signal transduction pathways. Selection and clonal expansion of B and T lymphocytes

Recognition, processing and presentation of antigens. Structure and function of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Cells presenting protein antigens (APC): dendritic cells, macrophages and B cells. Physiological significance of antigen presentation in association with MHC molecules.

T and B lymphocyte response to antigens: activation and differentiation. Clonal expansion. Role of accessory and costimulatory molecules in the immune response. Effector and memory lymphocytes. Cytokines. T-dependent and T-independent antigens. T-B cooperation in the antibody response. Germinal center reaction. Affinity maturation and class exchange of antibodies. The different classes of helper T cells: Th1, Th2, Th17, follicular Th and regulatory T cells. Effector mechanisms of humoral immunity (antibodies, complement) and cellular immunity (NK cells, cytotoxic and helper T lymphocytes).

Mucose-associated immunity. Development and functions of immunity associated to the intestinal mucosa. Role of the microbiota. Immunity associated with the epidermis and pulmonary immunity.

Immune tolerance. Central and peripheral tolerance in T and B cells. Role of clonal selection and costimulation. Role of infections in breaking tolerance.

An integrated view of the responses to pathogens. Strategies of response to bacteria, viruses, fungi and to helminths. Escape strategies of microorganisms.

Vaccines. Vaccines made with attenuated or killed virus or bacteria. Vaccines made with microbial components, or with inactivated toxins. Adjuvants.

AB0 and Rh systems. Structure and genetics of AB0 antigens. "Natural" antibodies and compatibility of transfusions. Rh incompatibility and fetal erythroblastosis.

Transplant rejection. Molecular and cellular basis of the recognition of alloantigens: role of the MHC. Direct and indirect rejection of transplants. Hyperacute, acute and chronic rejection. Bone marrow transplantation and graft versus host disease (GVHD).

Immunodeficiencies. Congenital immunodeficiencies of the innate and adaptive immune system. Severe combined immune deficiencies (SCID). Immunodeficiencies of the T and B compartments. Short notes on the pathogenesis of AIDS.

Hypersensitivity reactions. Immediate hypersensitivity (type I): the role of IgE. Anaphylactic reactions. Hypersensitivity type II: reaction of antibodies against surface antigens. Hypersensitivity Type III: immune complexes, serum sickness. Delayed hypersensitivity type IV.

Immunological techniques. Monoclonal antibodies. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Western blot. Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). The chimeric antigen receptor T cells /CAR-T cells).


A.K. Abbas e A:H: Lichtman, 2014 (eigth edition), Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Ed. Elsevier-Masson.

Teaching methods

Lessons with power point presentations of the slides available before the beginning of the course on the "Virtuale" website.

Assessment methods

The purpose of the oral exam is to verify the student's ability to apply his or her knowledge and to make the necessary logical-deductive connections. The exam is oral and consists of an interview with the two lecturers of the course, each of whom will give a grade.

Grade of grade:

Insufficient: lack of preparation. Serious and repeated conceptual errors.

18-19: knowledge of the basic concepts without serious gaps. Exposition of concepts and language as a whole acceptable.

20-24: knowledge of the basic concepts without gaps. Ability to analyze and link in partial autonomy. Exposure of discrete concepts and language.

25-29: preparation of good or very good level or even excellent preparation but with inaccuracies in the presentation that compromise the achievement of full marks. Ability to analyze and link independently. Exposure of concepts in the right succession and mastery of the language.

30-30L: full preparation, consolidated and without inaccuracies on the topics covered in the course. Ability to promptly frame the topic. Ability to analyze and connect independently. Concepts in the right succession and full command of the specific language.

The final grade obtained, average of the marks of the two teachers, will be mediated with that obtained in Molecular Pathology (IV semester). The verbalization is unique to the passing of the parts of Immunology and Molecular Pathology.


Teaching tools

Slides are available on the "Virtuale" platform

Office hours

See the website of Fabio Dall'Olio


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.