Lessons in Immunity. From Single-Cell Organisms to Mammals

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Antibodies of the IgA class are produced near mucus membranes and find their way into secretions such as tears, bile, saliva and mucus, where they protect against infection in the respiratory tract and intestines. Some of the IgA also appears in the circulation.

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Antibodies of the IgM class are the first antibodies formed in response to infection. They are important in protection during the early days of an infection. Antibodies protect the body against infection in a number of different ways. In addition, antibodies attached to the surface of some microorganisms can cause the activation of a group of proteins called the complement system that can directly kill some bacteria or viruses.

Antibody-coated bacteria are also much easier for neutrophils to ingest and kill than bacteria that are not coated with antibodies. All of these actions of antibodies prevent microorganisms from successfully invading body tissues and causing serious infections. The long life of plasma cells enables us to retain immunity to viruses and bacteria that infected us many years ago. For example, once people have been fully immunized with live vaccine strains of measles virus, they will almost never catch it because they retain the plasma cells and antibodies for many years and these antibodies prevent infection.

T-cells sometimes called T-lymphocytes and often named in lab reports as CD3 cells are another type of immune cell.

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T-cells directly attack cells infected with viruses, and they also act as regulators of the immune system. T-cells develop from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow but complete their development in the thymus. The thymus is a specialized organ of the immune system in the chest. The thymus is essential for this process, and T-cells cannot develop if the fetus does not have a thymus. Mature T-cells leave the thymus and populate other organs of the immune system, such as the spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and blood.

Each T-cell reacts with a specific antigen, just as each antibody molecule reacts with a specific antigen. In fact, T-cells have molecules on their surfaces that are similar to antibodies.

Results and Discussion

The variety of different T-cells is so extensive that the body has T-cells that can react against virtually any antigen. T-cells have different abilities to recognize antigen and are varied in their function. Each has a different role to play in the immune system. Killer, or cytotoxic, T-cells perform the actual destruction of infected cells.

Killer T-cells also respond to foreign tissues in the body, such as a transplanted kidney. The killer cell must migrate to the site of infection and directly bind to its target to ensure its destruction. Helper T-cells assist B-cells to produce antibodies and assist killer T-cells in their attack on foreign substances. Regulatory T-cells suppress or turn off other T-lymphocytes.

Without regulatory cells, the immune system would keep working even after an infection has been cured.

Genomics & immunology

Regulatory T-cells act as the thermostat of the lymphocyte system to keep it turned on just enough—not too much and not too little. Each class or type of immunoglobulin shares properties in common with the others. They all have antigen binding sites which combine specifically with the foreign antigen. IgG: IgG is the major immunoglobulin class in the body and is found in the blood stream as well as in tissues. These modifications allow the secretory IgA to be secreted into mucus, intestinal juices and tears where it protects those areas from infection.


Should a pathogen infect the body more than once, these specific memory cells are used to quickly eliminate it. The complement system is a biochemical cascade that attacks the surfaces of foreign cells. Nature Immunology. Zoolog Sci — As well during awake active times, anti-inflammatory molecules, such as cortisol and catecholamines , peak. As people age, two things happen that negatively affect their vitamin D levels.

IgM: IgM is composed of five immunoglobulin molecules attached to each other. It is formed very early in infection and activates complement very easily. Natural killer NK cells are so named because they easily kill cells infected with viruses. NK cells are derived from the bone marrow and are present in relatively low numbers in the bloodstream and in tissues.

They are important in defending against viruses and possibly preventing cancer as well. NK cells kill virus-infected cells by injecting it with a killer potion of chemicals. They are particularly important in the defense against herpes viruses.

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This family of viruses includes the traditional cold sore form of herpes herpes simplex as well as Epstein-Barr virus the cause of infectious mononucleosis and the varicella virus the cause of chickenpox. They are also called granulocytes and appear on lab reports as part of a complete blood count CBC with differential. They are found in the bloodstream and can migrate into sites of infection within a matter of minutes.

These cells, like the other cells in the immune system, develop from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Neutrophils increase in number in the bloodstream during infection and are in large part responsible for the elevated white blood cell count seen with some infections. Their killing strategy relies on ingesting the infecting organisms in specialized packets of cell membrane that then fuse with other parts of the neutrophil that contain toxic chemicals that kill the microorganisms.

They have little role in the defense against viruses.

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Monocytes are closely related to neutrophils and are found circulating in the bloodstream. They make up percent of the white blood cells. They also line the walls of blood vessels in organs like the liver and spleen. Here they capture microorganisms in the blood as the microorganisms pass by. When monocytes leave the bloodstream and enter the tissues, they change shape and size and become macrophages. Macrophages are essential for killing fungi and the class of bacteria to which tuberculosis belongs mycobacteria. Like neutrophils, macrophages ingest microbes and deliver toxic chemicals directly to the foreign invader to kill it.

1st Edition

Lessons in Immunity: From Single-cell Organisms to Mammals stems from the activity of the Italian Association of Developmental and. Lessons in Immunity. From Single-Cell Organisms to Mammals. Book • Edited by: Loriano Ballarin and Matteo Cammarata. Browse book content.

Macrophages live longer than neutrophils and are especially important for slow growing or chronic infections. Macrophages can be influenced by T-cells and often collaborate with T-cells in killing microorganisms.

Molecular & Cellular Biology

Cytokines are a very important set of proteins in the body. These small proteins serve as hormones for the immune system. They are produced in response to a threat and represent the communication network for the immune system. In some cases, cells of the immune system communicate by directly touching each other, but often cells communicate by secreting cytokines that can then act on other cells either locally or at a distance.

Immune system - Wikipedia

This clever system allows very precise information to be delivered rapidly to alert the body as to the status of the threat. Some cytokines were named before the interleukin IL numbering convention was started and have different names. The complement system is composed of 30 blood proteins that function in an ordered fashion to defend against infection. Most proteins in the complement system are produced in the liver.

Some of the proteins of the complement system coat germs to make them more easily taken up by neutrophils. Other complement components act to send out chemical signals to attract neutrophils to sites of infection. Complement proteins can also assemble on the surface of microorganisms forming a complex. This complex can then puncture the cell wall of the microorganism and destroy it.

Our bodies are covered with bacteria and our environment contains bacteria on most surfaces. Our skin and internal mucous membranes act as physical barriers to help prevent infection. When the skin or mucous membranes are broken due to disease, inflammation or injury, bacteria can enter the body.

Infecting bacteria are usually coated with complement and antibodies once they enter the tissues, and this allows neutrophils to easily recognize the bacteria as something foreign.