Innate immunological memory: from plants to animals

Curr Opin Immunol. 2020 Feb;62:69-78. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2019.12.001. Epub 2020 Jan 10.


Immunological memory is defined by the ability of the host to recognise and mount a robust secondary response against a previously encountered pathogen. Classic immune memory is an evolutionary adaptation of the vertebrate immune system that has been attributed to adaptive lymphocytes, including T and B cells. In contrast, the innate immune system was known for its conserved, non-specific roles in rapid host defence, but historically was considered to be unable to generate memory. Recent studies have challenged our understanding of innate immunity and now provides a growing body of evidence for innate immune memory. However, in many species and in various cell types the underlying mechanisms of immune 'memory' formation remain poorly understood. The purpose of this review is to explore and summarise the emerging evidence for immunological 'memory' in plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / immunology
  • Animals
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Plants / immunology*