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Specific (adaptive) immunity is not present at birth; it is acquired. As a person's immune system encounters antigens, it learns the best way to attack each antigen and begins to develop a memory for that antigen. Specific immunity is so named because it tailors its attack to a specific antigen previously encountered. The hallmarks of specific immunity are its ability to learn, adapt, and remember. Specific immunity takes time to develop after initial exposure to a new antigen. However, because a memory is formed, subsequent responses to a previously encountered antigen are more effective and more rapid than those generated by nonspecific immunity. Lymphocytes are the most important type of white blood cell involved in specific immunity. Dendritic cells, antibodies, cytokines, and the complement system (which enhances the effectiveness of antibodies) are also involved. Animation by R.M Chute.

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