03766 - Immunology (LZ-B)

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, S. Pillai 2018 (nona edizione), Immunologia Cellulare e Molecolare, Ed. Elsevier-Masson.

Teaching methods

Lessons will be supported by slides available on IOL website

Assessment methods

Student learning will be checked at the end of the course by an oral exam, which aims to assess the student’s knowledge on immunology
The final mark of the Molecular Pathology - Immunology Integrated Course will be calculated as the weighted mean (based on CFUs) of the marks obtained in all the courses (Immunology, Oncology and Genetic pathology). Marks last indefinitely.
A mark above or equal to 18/30 in each course is required to obtain the final assessment.
The purpose of the oral exam is to verify the student's ability to express his/her knowledge and make the necessary logical-deductive connections.
Mark format and meaning:
18-19: preparation on a limited number of topics; adequate oral presentation but with the assistance of the professor; use of a proper language
20-24: preparation on a limited number of topics; adequate and autonomous oral presentation; use of a proper language
25-29: good preparation on most of the topics covered during the course; ability to autonomously make connections between topics and critical thinking; mastery of specific terminology
30-30L: exhaustive preparation on the topics covered during the course; ability to autonomously frame the topic, make connections, use critical thinking and defend a position. Full mastery of specific terminology

Teaching tools

Teaching slides will be available on line at Unibo e-learning website https://iol.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Massimiliano Bonafè


Good health and well-being

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