All immune cells derive from pluripotent stem cells in the bone marrow. These are cells that can differentiate into any other cell type, given the right kind of stimulus (Scheme 5.1). Various modes of differentiation beyond the stem cell give rise to unique cellular types, each with a specific function in the immune system. The first stage of differentiation gives rise to two intermediate types of stem cells and creates a branch point.2 These cells are the myeloid cells (myeloid lineage) and the lymphoid cells (lymphoid lineage). Carrying the lineage further leads to additional branching. The myeloid cells differentiate into erythrocytes and platelets and also monocytes and granulocytes. The lymphoid cell differentiates into B cells and T cells, the cells that are at the center of adaptive immunity. The switching system for each pathway and cell type is governed by several colony-stimulating factors, stem cell factors, and interleukins. These control proliferation, differentiation, and maturation of the cells.
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