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Defect in immunity that impairs the body's ability to resist infection. The immune system may fail to function for many reasons. Immune disorders caused by a genetic defect are usually evident early in life. Others can be acquired at any age through infections (e.g., AIDS) or immunosuppression. Aspects of the immune response that may be affected include lymphocytes, other leukocytes, antibodies, and complement. Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which arises from several different genetic defects, disrupts all of these. Depending on the cause, treatment for immunodeficiency may be administration of immunoglobulins, bone-marrow transplant, or therapy for the underlying disease.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on immunodeficiency, visit Britannica.com.