Primary immunodeficiencies of protective immunity to primary infections

Clin Immunol. 2010 May;135(2):204-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2010.02.001. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


The vast majority of primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs) predispose affected individuals to recurrent or chronic infectious diseases, because they affect protective immunity to both primary and secondary or latent infections. We discuss here three recently described groups of PIDs that seem to impair immunity to primary infections without compromising immunity to secondary and latent infections. Patients with mutations in IL12B or IL12RB1 typically present mycobacterial disease in childhood with a favorable progression thereafter. Cross-protection between mycobacterial infections has even been observed. Patients with mutations in IRAK4 or MYD88 suffer from pyogenic bacterial diseases, including invasive pneumococcal diseases in particular. These diseases often recur, although not always with the same serotype, but the frequency of these recurrences tails off, with no further infections observed from adolescence onwards. Finally, mutations in UNC93B1 and TLR3 are associated with childhood herpes simplex encephalitis, which strikes only once in most patients, with almost no recorded cases of more than two bouts of this disease. Unlike infections in patients with other PIDs, the clinical course of which typically deteriorates with age even if appropriate treatment is given, the prognosis of patients with these three newly described PIDs tends to improve spontaneously with age, provided, of course, that the initial infection is properly managed. In other words, although life-threatening in early childhood, these new PIDs are associated with a favorable outcome in adulthood. They provide proof-of-principle that infectious diseases of childhood striking only once may result from single-gene inborn errors of immunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Disease Susceptibility / immunology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity / genetics
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / genetics
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology*
  • Infections / genetics
  • Infections / immunology*