Innate Immunity vs Adaptive Immunity- Definition and 29 Differences

Differences between Innate Immunity and Adaptive Immunity

Some of the differences are:


Characteristics Innate Immunity

Adaptive Immunity

1. Synonyms Nonspecific, natural immunity Specific, acquired immunity
2. Definition The defense mechanisms that are non-antigen specific and immediately come into play on the antigen’s appearance in the body.  The defense mechanism that is not always present but involve antigen-specific immune response.
3. Order of defense It is the first line of defense of immune system. It is the action against pathogens that are able to evade or overcome innate immune defenses. 
4. State at birth Presence since birth. Acquired during lifetime.
5. Presence Always present in the body itself. Developed only upon exposure to antigens.
6. Inducible No Yes
7. Cells involved Physical epithelial barriers, Phagocytic leukocyte, Dendritic cells, Natural killer (NK) cell, Mast cells etc. Killer CD8+ T-cells, Helper CD4+ T-cells, B-cells, Antigen presenting cells etc.
8. Molecules involved Cytokines, Complements ,Interferon, Acute phase proteins. Antibodies


9. Fights against Fights any foreign invader and thus is non-specific. Ability to fight a specific infection.
10. Receptors involved Uses receptors that recognize conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) such as LPS, flagellin, nucleic acids. Uses recombined B- and T-cell receptors that recognize specific antigens on pathogens


11. Effector function Constitutive effective functions encoded in the germline (inflammation, phagocytosis) Inducible effector functions (proliferation, activation, maturation, differentiation)
12. Response time Occurs rapidly from minutes to hours. Occurs over days to weeks.
13. Immunological memory Does not confer memory Confer  immunological memory
14. Directed against Innate immunity is directed towards types of molecules. It is directed towards specific epitopes.
15. Subsequent exposure The immune response does not alter on repeated exposure. Immune response improves with each successive exposure.
16. Types of immune response Types of adaptive immune responses: Inflammation, Complement mediated killing, Phagocytosis etc. Two types of adaptive immune responses: humoral immunity, mediated by antibodies produced by B lymphocytes, and cell-mediated immunity, mediated by T lymphocytes.
17. Changeability May vary between individuals but does not change over course of an individual lifetime Immunity is generated by recombination of V, D, and J regions and further hypervariation thus may change.
18. Diversity Limited Diverse
19. Potency Limited and Lower potency Higher potency
20. Inheritance Inherited from parents  Not inherited from parents 
21. Time span Once activated against a specific type of antigen, the immunity remains throughout the life. The span of developed immunity can be lifelong or short.
22. Complexity Innate immune response is less complex. More complex than the innate immune response.
23. Anatomic and physiological barriers Skin, Mucous membranes, Temp, pH, chemicals, etc. Lymph nodes, spleen, mucosal associated lymphoid tissue.
24. Allergy or Hypersensitivity reaction None Immediate and Delay hypersensitivity
25. Complement system activation


Alternative and lectin pathways Classical pathway
26. Found in Found in nearly all forms of life. Found only in jawed vertebrates.
27. Factors causing immune evasion Caused by pathogenic virulence factor.

Often involves disabling the conserved pattern recognition used by innate system

Caused by mutation of the recognized antigen.
28. Functions a) Recruiting immune cells to sites of infection

b) Activation of the complement cascade to identify antigens

c) Identification and removal of foreign substances present in organs, tissues, blood and lymph.

d) Activation of the adaptive immune system through antigen presentation.

e) Acting as a physical and chemical barrier to infectious agents.

a) Recognition of specific “non-self” antigens during the process of antigen presentation.

b) Generation of responses that are tailored to maximally eliminate specific pathogens or pathogen-infected cells.

c) Development of immunological memory, through memory B cells and memory T cells.

29. Examples White blood cells fighting bacteria, causing redness and swelling during a cut. Administration of Chickenpox vaccination such that an individual do not develop chickenpox as adaptive immunity forms immunological memory.

Innate Immunity vs Adaptive Immunity

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK).

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