Milestones of Immunology, Immune system - an overview, Antigen

Common people perceive Immunology as a scientific branch that studies defence of an organism against germs, cancer cells, toxins etc. Nowadays, Immunology is defined a scientific branch that studies immunity, its cellular and molecular processes that proceed after a foreign substance, an antigen, enters our body. There are many notable personalities who contributed to its development. Let us mention only some of them – Louis Pasteur, Ilja Mecnikov, Jean Dausset and many, many others. They contributed to the fact that Immunology belongs to those scientific disciplines that develop the most intensively in recent years.

From the morphological point of view, the immune system is a diffuse organ; it weights app. 1 kg in adults. It consists of primary and secondary lymphoid organs, numerous leucocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells etc., altogether are there app. 1012 cells. One has to include to them also billions of molecules, approximately 1020 (antibodies, cytokines, regulatory, anti-microbial, transport molecules, etc. The immune system confers the organism immunity, which is mediated by sophisticated mechanisms of non-specific (innate) and specific (adaptive) mechanisms that cooperate very closely.
Immune response is induced when the antigen enters our body. It is any substance that is able to induce an immune response. The most common antigens represent microbes, various chemical substances (proteins, saccharides, ..), transplanted organs and tissues etc.; however, sometimes modified self molecules and cells can be antigenic too. The antigens must be endowed by some physical and biochemical properties to be able induce immune response. Our body is full of antigens too; the best known antigenic systems represent blood groups ABO, Rh, and HLA.

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 Milestones of Immunology, Immune system - an overview, Antigen 27.2.2012 9.52 MB anyone