84360 - Immunology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

Describe the basis of the immune system as a fundamental defense system, and its alterations as a cause of disease, with reference to specific diseases.

Course contents

Immunology (Integrated Course “Basic Mechanisms of Diseases”)

Lectures given by Dr. Miriam Capri

  • Lesson #1: Introduction to the Immune System (IS) and its evolution, historical notes: functions and features of IS; innate, acquired and humoral immunity; cells of the IS: lymphocytes, macrophages, granulocytes, dendritic cells, etc. Primary and secondary response.
  • Lesson #2. Organs and tissues of the IS: generative and secondary organs (bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, IS associated to the mucosae). Lymphatic System and lymphocyte recirculation, inflammatory response.
  • Lesson #3-4: Innate Immunity: physical barriers, preformed proteins, professional phagocytes, NK and NKT cells, gamma-delta lymphocytes. Mechanisms of phagocytosis and cytotoxicity NK. Mechanisms of antigen recognition of Innate Immunity: TLRs, NLRs, RLRs, CLRs, cGAS-STING, KIR and inflammasomes. The memory of Innate Immunity: the trained immunity.
  • Lesson #5-6: Specific/Adaptive Immunity: features and functions, antigen receptors of cells of the specific immunity (membrane-linked antibodies and TCR), antigen recognition; creation of the receptor repertoire, somatic recombination, clonal distribution. MHC molecules, antigen processing and presentation; proteasome and immunoproteasome. Dendritic cells.
  • Lesson #7. B Lymphocytes: features, development, maturation and activation; structure of B cell receptor. Functions in the Immune response: secreted antibodies: structure, functions, classification.
  • Lesson #8. T lymphocytes: features of T helper (CD4+) and cytotoxic (CD8+), development, maturation and activation; structure of T cell receptor. Functions in the Immune response: cell-mediated immunity. Production of cytokines, Th1 and Th2 lymphocytes, natural and induced Treg. Cytotoxicity. Regional immunity: the intestinal mucoses. Relationships with the gut microbiota. Th17 lymphocytes.

Lectures given by Prof. Stefano Salvioli

  • Lesson #9: T-B Cooperation; costimulation: role of accessorial molecules; T-dependent and independent responses; germinative centre reaction and isotypic switch. Cytokines and cytokine receptors. Th1 and Th2 responses. Tolerance: recognition and discrimination between self and non-self. Mechanisms of central (negative selection) and peripheral tolerance (anergy, deletion and suppression).
  • Lesson #10: Effective phase of the Immune Response: the Complement System: components, functions, regulation and deficits.
  • Lesson #11: Effective phase of the Immune Response: activation of macrophages M1 and M2; delayed type hypersensitivity; Cytotoxic T lymphocytes activation.
  • Lesson #12: Immunity against pathogens: extra and intra-cellular bacteria; viruses and parasites. Mechanisms of escape from the immune response.
  • Lesson #13: Vaccines and vaccine strategies. Different types of vaccines against pathogens (viruses, oncogenic viruses, bacteria, toxins). Risks of vaccinations. Psychological issues on vaccines.
  • Lesson #14: Immunology of transplants: transplants classifications: auto-, allo- and xeno-transplants; biological bases of transplant rejection; different types of rejection; GVHD; strategies to prevent transplant rejection: HLA typization, immunosuppressive therapies.
  • Lesson #15: Immunopathology: alterations of the immune response; classification of immunopathologies; autoimmunity.
  • Lesson #16: Type I hypersensitivity: IgE-based allergies; Type II hypersensitivity (IgG autoantibodies acting as inflammation trigger, complement activators, receptor agonist or antagonist), Type III hypersensitivity (immunocomplexes diseases) and type IV hypersensitivity (autoreactive T cell-based diseases).
  • Lesson #17: Congenital immunodeficiencies of the innate and adaptive immune system. SCIDs and other syndromes.
  • Lesson #18: Acquired immunodeficiencies. HIV and AIDS.
  • Lesson #19: How the IS ages: immunosenescence. Consequences of the decreased immune response on the susceptibility to age-associated diseases. Inflammation as a driving force of aging and diseases (inflammaging). Inflammaging and cytokine release storm: the special case of Covid-19.
  • Lesson #20: Cancer immunology. Immunogenicity of cancers. Immune escape of cancers. Immunotherapies to cancers: vaccines against cancer; monoclonal antibodies, anti-PD-1 and PDL-1; CAR-T cells.


Abbas, Lichtman, Pillai: Cellular and molecular immunology, 2018 (ninth edition), Elsevier.

Kenneth Murphy & Casey Weaver: Janeway's Immunobiology, 2017 (9th Edition), Garland Science.

Geha, Notarangelo: Case studies in immunology: a clinical companion, 2016 (7th Edition), Garland Sciences.

Teaching methods

frontal lectures with ppt slides

Assessment methods

Student learning will be checked at the end of the Integrated Course “Basic Mechanisms of Diseases” by an oral exam. A passing grade (i.e. mark above or equal to 18/30) in each module of the Course (Immunology, General Pathology, Physiopathology and Gen. Path. Lab) is required to obtain the final assessment. The final mark will be calculated as the weighted mean (based on CFUs) of the four marks. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the exams will be held at distance with Microsoft Teams platform. Students should register as usual in Almaesami, and will receive an e-mail with the link and timetable of the exam sessions.

Teaching tools

PPT slide files, stored at IOL website.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Salvioli

See the website of Miriam Capri