From WikiProjectMed
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Scanning electron micrograph of T lymphocyte

In immunology, immunocompetence is the ability of the body to produce a normal immune response following exposure to an antigen. Immunocompetence is the opposite of immunodeficiency (also known as immuno-incompetence or being immuno-compromised). Examples include:

  • a newborn who does not yet have a fully functioning immune system but may have maternally transmitted antibodies – immunodeficient;
  • a late stage AIDS patient with a failed or failing immune system – immuno-incompetent; or
  • a transplant recipient taking medication so their body will not reject the donated organ – immunocompromised.

There may be cases of overlap but these terms all describe immune system not fully functioning.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that household and other close contacts of persons with altered immunocompetence receive the MMR, varicella, and rotavirus vaccines according to the standard schedule of vaccines, as well as receiving an annual flu shot. All other vaccines may be administered to contacts without alteration to the vaccine schedule, with the exception of the smallpox vaccine. Persons with altered immunocompetence should not receive live, attenuated vaccines (viral or bacterial), and may not receive the full benefit of inactivated vaccines.[1]

In reference to lymphocytes, immunocompetence means that a B cell or T cell is mature and can recognize antigens and allow a person to mount an immune response. In order for lymphocytes such as T cells to become immunocompetent, which refers to the ability of lymphocyte cell receptors to recognize MHC molecules, they must undergo positive selection. [2] Adaptive immunocompetence is regulated by growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL), and vasopressin (VP) – hormones secreted by the pituitary gland.[3]

A 2023 NIH study indicated that some individuals have, what is termed as- immune resilience. This term indicates individuals whose immune system can "control inflammation and preserve (or rapidly restore) immune activity that promotes resistance to disease"[4]

See also


  1. "ACIP Altered Immunocompetence Guidelines for Immunizations". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 14 September 2018. Archived from the original on 26 September 2023. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  2. Pillai. (2004) Positive selection and lineage commitment during peripheral B-lymphocyte development. Immunological Reviews., 197(1), 206–218. Archived 2024-02-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Berczi, I., Quintanar-Stephano, A., & Kovacs, K. (2009). Neuroimmune regulation in immunocompetence, acute illness, and healing. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1153(1), 220–239. Archived 2024-02-12 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "A Secret to Health and Long Life? Immune Resilience, NIAID Grantees Report | NIAID: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases". 6 June 2023. Archived from the original on 27 October 2023. Retrieved 6 February 2024.