Cells of the Immune System

The response to pathogens is orchestrated by the complex interactions and activities of the large number of diverse cell types involved in the immune response. The innate immune response is the first line of defense and occurs soon after pathogen exposure. It is carried out by phagocytic cells such as neutrophils and macrophages, cytotoxic natural killer (NK) cells, and granulocytes. The subsequent adaptive immune response includes antigen-specific defense mechanisms and may take days to develop. Cell types with critical roles in adaptive immunity are antigen-presenting cells including macrophages and dendritic cells. Antigen-dependent stimulation of various cell types including T cell subsets, B cells, and macrophages all play critical roles in host defense.