Brief Look at Immunity

The immune system is the body's way of combating the invasion of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, molds, spores, pollens, protozoa,

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and cells from transplant donors (human or animal). The immune system prevents an invasion from attacking internal organs and, if that fails, the immune system neutralizes, destroys, and eliminates any non-self proteins and cells, including microorganisms.

Non-self proteins and cells also include self cells (the body's own cells) that have become infected or debilitated. One example is malignant transformation that changes healthy cells into cancer cells. The ability of the immune system to differentiate between the body's own cells and non-self cells is called self-tolerance.

The immune system is able to recognize self-cells by using unique proteins that are on the surface of all self-cells. Think of these proteins as an identification code. Foreign cells have a different identification code. These are called antigens and stimulate the immune response of a host.

When bacteria invade your body, your immune system detects the bacteria's surface protein as not being a self-cell. This triggers your immune system to launch an attack against the bacteria.

The immune system originates in the bone marrow. Mature immune system cells are released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream where they circulate throughout the body looking for invaders.

There are three processes necessary for immunity: inflammation, antibody-mediated immunity (humoral immunity), and cell-mediated immunity (CMI).

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