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Immune System Disorders

Immune System Disorders

Author: Aaron Mullally

This lesson will examine the cause and effects of several immune system disorders.

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Immune Disorders

Video Images: Butterfly Rash image, Public domain:; Angioedema image, Creative Commons:; Rheumatoid Arthritis image, Creative Commons:; Diabetes image, Public Domain:; HIV image, Public Domain:

Source: Aaron M

Terms to Know

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. A person with AIDS has a very low T helper cell count that causes them to lose their ability to coordinate their immune response making them immunodeficient and susceptible to opportunistic infections.


A hypersensitivity (overreaction) to environmental substances called allergens, an allergic response is carried out by the release of histamine and is basically an inflammatory response.

Anaphylactic Shock

Shock is a general term to describe a severe drop in blood pressure; anaphylactic shock is caused by an extreme allergic reaction that causes blood volume and blood pressure to drop as a result of excessive histamine release and inflammation.


When the immune system recognizes a self antigen as being foreign and attacks it; when the immune system attacks our own tissues/organs.


A general term used to describe a person that has a weakened/compromised immune system. Immunodeficiencies cause a person to be susceptible to opportunistic infections, which are infections you wouldn’t normally get with a healthy immune system.


Known as systemic lupus erythematosus, lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect any organ system. Lupus can be very difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms may mimic other diseases.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disease where the immune system produces autoantibodies against the connective tissue capsules of synovial joints. This causes severe inflammation and disfigurement of synovial joints, especially noticeable in the hands and feet.

Type I Diabetes

A metabolic disease known as diabetes mellitus, type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the destruction of pancreatic β cells. β cells are responsible for producing and secreting insulin, so when a person loses these cells they have a difficult time metabolizing glucose.