What is the Difference Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency

The main difference between immunosuppression and immunodeficiency is that immunosuppression is the decrease of the function of the immune system whereas immunodeficiency is the absence of the function of the immune system.

Immunosuppression and immunodeficiency are two types of reductions in the immune system of humans and other animals. Normally, the immune system function against infectious diseases and cancer. 

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Immunosuppression
– Definition, Characteristics, Function
2. What is Immunodeficiency
– Definition, Characteristics, Function
3. Similarities Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Immunodeficiency, Immunosuppression

Difference Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency-Comparison Summary

What is Immunosuppression

Immunosuppression is the decrease in the function of the immune system on purpose or due to illnesses. Generally, the immune system protects the body from various infections and cancer. Therefore, a suppressed immune system can cause frequent illnesses in the body such as infections and cancer. In comparison, an increased function in the immune system can cause autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the body. Therefore, immunosuppression is important to prevent autoimmune diseases.

Compare Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency

Figure 1: Autoimmune Diseases

Furthermore, immunosuppression can be either induced artificially or can occur due to chronic inflammation and diseases. More importantly, immunosuppression is important in organ transplantation to prevent the rejection of the transplanted tissue from the body. Naturally, the immune system kills foreign cells and therefore, the transplanted tissue can undergo rejection. However, the suppression of the function of the immune system can prevent graft rejection.

What is Immunodeficiency

Immunodeficiency is the immune system’s inability to generate an immune response. A person with immunodeficiency can get various diseases such as infections and cancer. Immunodeficiency also causes autoimmune diseases. Immunodeficiency can occur in genetic mutations; for instance, as in X-linked immunodeficiency disease. Some people also lack important components in the immune system such as white blood cells and antibodies to fight against infections and cancer.

Immunosuppression vs Immunodeficiency

Figure 2: HIV Symptoms

Moreover, certain infectious agents such as the HIV virus can cause a deficient immune system. In acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), CD4 white blood cells do not occur in the immune system. Therefore, the person’s body does not develop an immune response to AIDS.   

Similarities Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency

  • Immunosuppression and immunodeficiency are two states of the immune system.
  • In both cases, the function of the immune system fails in different degrees.
  • Certain drugs and disease conditions lead to a reduction in the function of the immune system.
  • The immune system fights against infectious diseases and cancer. Therefore, the decrease in the function of the immune system can cause illnesses.
  • Moreover, persons with decreased immune system functions can get illnesses like infections and cancer.

Difference Between Immunosuppression and Immunodeficiency

Definition

Immunosuppression refers to the lowering of the activity of the body’s immune system while immunodeficiency refers to the inability of the immune system to produce an adequate immune response.

Significance

Immunosuppression is the drop in the response of the immune system while immunodeficiency is the lack of immune response to a particular infection.

Symptoms

Usually, individuals get frequent infections in immunosuppression while in immunodeficiency, a person becomes ill with various infections or cancer.

Autoimmune Diseases

Immunosuppressive drugs are important in autoimmune diseases while autoimmune diseases can develop in immunodeficiency.

Importance

Immunosuppression is important in organ transplant recipients to stop rejection of the transplanted tissue while Immunodeficiency occurs in HIV-infected people.

Conclusion

In brief, immunosuppression and immunodeficiency are two conditions in which a person can experience a reduction in the function of the immune system in the body. However, immunosuppression is the decrease in the function of the immune system while immunodeficiency is the lack of immune response in the immune system. Generally, a person can get frequent infections in immunosuppression. But immunosuppression is important in organ transplant recipients to prevent the rejection of the transplanted tissue. In comparison, immunodeficiency is the lack of function of the immune system. Usually, it occurs in HIV-infected people. A person with immunodeficiency also gets illnesses like infections and cancer. Hence, the main difference between immunosuppression and immunodeficiency is the degree of reduction of the function of the immune system.      

References:
  1. Immunosuppressants: Definition, Treatment & What Is It.Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Immunodeficiency: NIH.” Immunodeficiency | NIH.
Image Courtesy:
  1. Fimmu-12-744396-g002” By Katie Glover, Deepakkumar Mishra, and Thakur Raghu Raj Singh – Own work (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Symptoms of AIDS” By Mikael Häggström – Own Work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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