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Trends Immunol. 2005 Apr;26(4):186-92.

Specific memory within innate immune systems.

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Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute of Limnology, August-Thienemann-Str. 2, 24306 Plön, Germany.


Research into immune defense has been considerably enriched by the increasing focus on innate immunity. This type of immunity is still considered to lack specific memory, largely because there is no evidence of mechanisms that could provide such memory (such as acquired immunity). However, recent experimental data demonstrate specific memory phenomena in invertebrates: these organisms are thought to rely solely on innate defense. Here, I argue that a clear definition of the terms 'specificity' and 'memory', together with dissection of the evolutionary roots of immune defense, show us that innate immunity should not be, and is probably not, necessarily free of specific memory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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