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J Exp Biol. 2010 Mar 1;213(5):661-71. doi: 10.1242/jeb.038315.

Understanding the vertebrate immune system: insights from the reptilian perspective.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA.


Reptiles are ectothermic amniotes, providing the key link between ectothermic anamniotic fishes and amphibians, and endothermic amniotic birds and mammals. A greater understanding of reptilian immunity will provide important insights into the evolutionary history of vertebrate immunity as well as the growing field of eco-immunology. Like mammals, reptile immunity is complex and involves innate, cell-mediated and humoral compartments but, overall, there is considerably less known about immune function in reptiles. We review the current literature on each branch of the reptilian immune system, placing this information in context to other vertebrates. Further, we identify key areas that are prime for research as well as areas that are lagging because of lack of reagents in non-model systems.

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