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Active Vs Passive Immunity: A Detailed Overview


Task: Provide a detailed report on the substantial difference between active vs passive immunity.


The antibodies in our body act as the preventive elements from any sort of infection and foreign elements entering into the living system. The specific system and strategies are followed by the immunity system of the human body. The article would provide our readers with some valid discussion over active vs passive immunity. The composition and working methodology of the immunity system is better than any form of armies in the world (Baxter, 2007). In the category of proteins, antibodies could be segregated, which tackles the infection from the entrance of various foreign bodies into the body like parasites viruses, bacteria, etc. In the biological context, foreign bodies could be signified by the term antigens. The term immunity signifies the ability of an organism in resisting the perils created by the presence of antigens in the circulatory system. The moment when the immune system identifies the presence of antigen, a lot of antibodies are generated by the body (Black, 1989).

Active vs Passive immunity

The body's immune system retains some memory regarding the attack, and it produces a specific antibody to counter them. Hence the organism would develop strong immunity against the particular disease if it had happened. The antibodies formed for a particular antigen would not be proven to be effective in other diseases (Hanson et al., 1998). For instance, let us take the antibody which is created to counter the antigen of measles, which would turn out futile in the case of mumps.

The immune system in a human body could be classified into two different sections, Active and Passive.

Active vs Passive immunity
The evident difference between the active vs passive immunity
In the below section of this report, we have mentioned some evident differences between active vs passive immunity.

Active Immunity
The process by which the organism's immune capacity is developed by gradually introducing the antigens in a very minimal amount is termed as active immunity. The body learns to create antibodies against the antigens by gradual but constant exposure to them (Bakker et al., 2004). The immune system would act vigorously to the presence of pathogens by the higher immune efficiency acquire through this process. The body would stay unaffected even if the large influx of antigens happens to the organism.

As mentioned in the previous section, active immunity helps the organisms to develop higher immunity against the particular pathogen. Only by continuous exposure would the body acquire the skill to face the hostile conditions (Rooke & Bland, 2002). The same instance could be compared to your periodic academic examinations. It is only by preparing intensively for the intermediate examinations that you could secure high marks in the examinations.

In the same manner, the body learns to generate antibodies against the antigens in small exposure of pathogens, and the large influx of antigens hence would not be a large challenge for the immune system. The immune cells have a very long life span, and hence they could retain the information for a very long period.

Passive Immunity
The process of passive immunity implies that the antibodies developed from the immune system of other organisms are passed on to the body of other organisms. If observed in the immune system of a newborn child, the immune system seems to be very fragile, and it produces antibodies very slowly to counter the pathogen. Through the breastmilk of the mother, the young babies would acquire a proper level of antibodies to counter the diseases. The antibodies would be readily present in the body of the mother and are directly passed on to the body of the baby by breast milk. Passive immunity is artificial in the manner and would help the organisms develop a robust immune system by relying on resources from others. To acquire passive immunity, the particular individual is required to gather a concentrated and large amount of antibodies from a donor. The process of passive immunity could be further classified into natural and artificial manner. The mother breastfeeding the child would be considered the case of the natural way of acquiring passive immunity. Through the breastmilk of the mother, a particular level of antibodies is infused into the bloodstream of the child.

There are very artificial methods by which passive immunity could be acquired by the organisms. The organism would acquire a longer immunity when they are exposed to diseases like chickenpox and measles. In fact, the human body would create lifelong immunity in the case of exposure to these diseases. Vaccination could be considered as a process that signifies one of the most prominent forms of artificial passive immunity.

Features of passive immunity
Though it should be understood by our readers that the antibodies would not make any difference if the immune system of the individual is already very weak and fragile. In such instances, the vaccinations would not create any impact, and the person would be susceptible to the attack of any pathogen or contagious disease. Only the innate presence of antibodies in the immune system would help in successfully countering the disease.

The first instance of passive immunity would be when a fetus acquires antibodies from the placenta of the mother. The individual could also acquire additional passive immunity by infusing the blood from a donor with a matching blood group. By infusing globulin and antibody-rich blood into the human body, the person could acquire very high immunity against the particular disease. The travellers are provided with the gamma globulin rich infusion when they are travelling or interacting with a hepatitis prone region. The best example of passive immunization is the infusion of rabies immune globulin when the person is bitten by a wild animal.

The antibodies would work imminently in such a case and hence is still considered to be the best available medical solution. Hence the acquirement of passive immunity is quite advantageous for the organism since it would help in developing long-lasting immunity within the period of several weeks and months.

Evident differences between natural vs artificial passive immunity
Artificial passive immunity
The process of artificial passive immunity is quite different and is short term in manner. Various antibodies like gamma globulin are produced in the body of donors which is later injected into the circulatory system of the recipient. The process of artificial passive immunity is carried out majorly at the instances of the outbreak of pandemic or treating serious instance of toxicity. The best instance for this is the occurrence of tetanus.

Active vs Passive immunity

Below are provided with some of the best instances of artificially acquired immunity.

  • Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG): various diseases that are immunosuppressive in nature could be countered by the infusion of intravenous immune globulin. In such a category, diseases like, Kawasaki disease, primary immunodeficiency syndrome, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, etc. could be included.
  • Immune Globulins: It for diseases like measles and hepatitis A that the infusion of Immune globulins is majorly done. This process would also turn out to be very effective in the cases of immunodeficiency diseases.
  • Antisera: The process of antisera would help to counter the space of botulism.
  • Human HBIG: The individuals who would fail to acquire active immunity from the HepB vaccine. Hence the process would help in countering the disease of hepatitis B.
  • RIG: It is to prevent the instances of rabies that the process of RIG is done in the field of medical treatment.
  • Human TIG: The vaccinations like Td, DtaP, and DTP use the ideology of Human TIG. It is majorly the medical condition of tetanus that this process is majorly implied.
  • CMV-IGIV: This particular process would be effective in the immunosuppressed people when the cytomegalovirus infection happens.
  • RhoGAM: The infants could be saved from the condition of Rh hemolytic by adopting the treatment of RhoGAM.
  • VZIG: The disease of varicella could be countered by the VZIG approach.

Natural passive immunity
In the developing stage, the fetus would develop the appropriate defence from pathogens by acquiring passive immunity from the placenta of the mother. The placenta is rich with various antibodies and white blood cells which would prevent any sort of pathogen from infecting the fetus (Jeffcott, 1974). Hence, creating a very safe environment for the baby within the mother.

The similar presence of colostrum within the breastmilk would provide an additional source of natural passive immunity to the infants. The artificial insemination of colostrum is done if the mother is not producing breastmilk for the infant in an appropriate quantity, or there is another particular medical condition. The colostrum present in breast milk is the natural way to develop immunity against pathogens and other diseases (Keller & Stiehm, 2000). The appropriate amount of antibodies is present in the breastmilk, which would act along with the other protective components to develop natural passive immunity. However, it should be understood that the period of acquired natural passive immunity is very small and could only withstand for a period of around six months.

The antibodies are created immediately in the body since the student triggers are generated in the immune system. The immune system would get active only when the pathogens enter the system of the organism. The same process would last long till the organism is living. In fact, it is the process that even decides the existence of the organism (Jeffcott, 1972).

It is the mucus membrane within the skin that poses itself as the primary stage of defence when pathogens enter the body. There are specified cells that are responsible for the production of antibodies. They are termed as B cells which play a significant role in developing the effective immune system against the diseases (Blackburn & Swanepoel, 1988). It would take a certain time frame for the immune system to build immunity against a specific disease.

The biological context behind the acquirement of active immunity
The pathogens have a large multiplying ability, and it soon enters into the phase of rapid reproduction when the host body is penetrated. This causes huge damage to the living cells, which later leaves the message to the immune system that the body is under the attack of antigen. Soon after the message is received, the immune system would start to engulf the foreign material they counter. The specific details regarding the pathogens are communicated to the immune system, which enables it to take the appropriate measure to counter the emerging situation. You could refer to our further sample solutions on the topic of active vs passive immunity.

Bakker, J. M., Bleeker, W. K., & Parren, P. W. (2004). Therapeutic antibody gene transfer: an active approach to passive immunity. Active vs passive immunity, Molecular Therapy, 10(3), 411-416.

Baxter, D. (2007). Active and passive immunity, vaccine types, excipients, and licensing. Active vs passive immunity, Occupational Medicine, 57(8), 552-556.

Black, F. L. (1989). Measles active and passive immunity in a worldwide perspective. Progress in medical virology. Fortschritte der medizinischen Virusforschung. Active vs passive immunity, Progres en virologie medicale, 36, 1-33.

Blackburn, N. K., & Swanepoel, R. (1988). Observations on antibody levels associated with active and passive immunity to African horse sickness. Active vs passive immunity, Tropical animal health and production, 20(4), 203-210.

Hanson, M. S., Cassatt, D. R., Guo, B. P., Patel, N. K., McCarthy, M. P., Dorward, D. W., & Höök, M. (1998). Active and passive immunity against Borrelia burgdorferi decorin binding protein A (DbpA) protects against infection. Active vs passive immunity, infection and immunity, 66(5), 2143-2153.

Jeffcott, L. B. (1972). Passive immunity and its twsfer with special reference to the horse. Active vs passive immunity, Biological Reviews, 47(4), 439-464.

Jeffcott, L. B. (1974). Studies on passive immunity in the foal: I. ?-Globulin and antibody variations associated with the maternal transfer of immunity and the onset of active immunity. Active vs passive immunity, Journal of comparative pathology, 84(1), 93-101.

Keller, M. A., & Stiehm, E. R. (2000). Passive immunity in prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Active vs passive immunity, Clinical microbiology reviews, 13(4), 602-614.

Rooke, J. A., & Bland, I. M. (2002). The acquisition of passive immunity in the newborn piglet. Active vs passive immunity, Livestock Production Science, 78(1), 13-23.


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