03766 - Immunology

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will acquire the basic knowledge of human immune system, how it is an essential network for organism defense and how its alterations cause diseases. Student will be able to apply his/her knowledge of immune system mechanisms and its alterations on specific pathologies.

Course contents

Introduction to the Immune System (IS): functions and features of IS; innate and acquired immunity; cells of the IS: lymphocytes, macrophages, granulocytes, dendritic cells, etc. Primary and secondary response.

Organs and tissues of the IS: generative and secondary organs (bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, SI associated to the mucoses). Lymphatic System and lymphocyte recirculation.

Innate Immunity: physical barriers, preformed proteins, professional phagocytes, NK and NKT cels, gamma-delta lymphocytes. Mechanisms of phagocytosis and killing of pathogens. Role and receptors of NK cells (NKC and LRC). Mechanisms of antigen recognition of Innate Immunity (TLR, RIG, NLR and inflammasome). The memory of Innate Immunity: the trained immunity.

Specific 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.

B Lymphocytes: features, development, maturation and activation; structure of B cell receptor. Functions in the Immune response: secreted antibodies: structure, functions, classification. Monoclonal antibodies in diagnostics and therapies.

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. Engineered T cells: CAR-T cells.

T-B Cooperation; costimulation: role of accessorial molecules; T-dependent and independent responses; isotypic switch; suppression of T cell response. Cytokines and cytokine receptors. Th1 and Th2 responses.

Tolerance: recognition and discrimination between self and non-self. Mechanisms of central and peripheral tolerance (anergy, deletion and suppression).

Effective phase of the Immune Response. Activation of macrophages M1 and M2; delayed type hypersensitivity; Cytotoxic T lymphocytes activation;  humoral immunity: the complement, its regulation and deficit.

Immunity against pathogens: extra and intra-cellular bacteria; virus and parasites. Integrated immune system responses against pathogens and their escaping strategies/mechanisms.

Vaccines and mandatory vaccination in Italy: different types and various strategies with risk evaluation.

Immunology of transplants: transplants classifications: auto-, allo- and xeno-transplants; biological bases of transplant rejection; different types of rejection; GVHD; strategies aimed at preventing rejection: HLA typization, immunosuppressive therapies

Immunopathology: alterations of the immune response; classification of immunopathologies; type I hypersensitivity: allergies; Type II, III and IV hypersensitivities; tolerance and autoimmunity diseases with different mechanisms, i.e. type II, III, and IV.

Congenital immunodeficiencies relate to innate and adaptive immune system. Acquired immunodeficiency with HIV: AIDS.

Immunosenescence: age-related changes of immune system, chronic low level inflammatory process with ageing or INFLAMMAGING, immune cell senescence and problems of vaccination in elderly people.  Inflammaging and cytokine release storm: the special case of Covid-19.


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

Geha, Notarangelo: Casi Studio in Immunologia, 2019 (settima edizione), Piccin

Amadori e Zanovello, Lezioni di immunologia e immunopatologia – 2020, Piccin Editore

Parham, Il Sistema Immunitario, II ed., 2017, EdiSES s.r. l.

Janeway, Immunobiologia, 2012 (ottava edizione), Ed. Piccin, Padova.

Abbas, Lichman, Le basi dell'immunologia, 2011 (terza edizione aggiornata), Ed. Elsevier-Masson.

Teaching methods

Frontal classes with presentation in ppt and the use of some short-video.

Due to CoViD-emergency the lesson can be got by online platform such as TEAMS.

Assessment methods

Students will have access to the exam if they have attended at least 66% of the lessons.

The learning assessment is in written form and consists of two parts:

- the first part consists of two free-answer questions on themes of the Course. Every question can contribute to the final mark with 10 points out of 30. Insufficient answer (<6 out of 10) to one of these questions leads to test failure with no further evaluation of the second part.

- the second part consists of 40 quiz of the type "true-or-false" on themes of the Course. Every correct answer contributes with 3/10 points, every wrong answer leads to a penalty of -1/10. The total points available for this parts are 12.

Further information on exam evaluation can be be required during the first lesson of the Course.

Attention: a single exam mark will be registered for the Integrated Course by averaging the two marks of Immunology and Molecular Pathology.

The person in charge of the registration is the Responsible for the Integrated Course.

It is strongly suggested to obtain the marks for the two parts of the Integrated Course (immunology and Molecular Pathology) within one year.


In case of CoViD- pandemic emergency:

the exams are given online with the Microsoft Teams platform in oral form until new provisions. Students must register as usual in Almaesami, and they will receive an e-mail with the link and timetable of the exam session.

The aim of the oral exam is to evaluate the knowledge of the student on the course's topics and the capability to perform logical connections.

Grading procedure:

- knowledge of a very limited number of topics and limited analytical capacity → 18-19 out of 30;

- knowledge of a limited number of topics and basic analytical capacity → 20-24 out of 30;

- knowledge of a consistent number of topics and good analytical capacity → 25-29 out of 30;

- knowledge of all topics and very good analytical capacity → 30-30L out of 30.


Teaching tools

Teaching tools are slides projected in order to help students to recognise most important concepts and take home messages.
Slides of lessons will be given to the students by means of web site EOL.

Office hours

See the website of Miriam Capri