MIT 7 012 - HUMORAL IMMUNOLOGY (8 pages)

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HUMORAL IMMUNOLOGY



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HUMORAL IMMUNOLOGY

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Pages:
8
School:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Course:
7 012 - Introduction to Biology
Introduction to Biology Documents

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MIT Biology Department 7 012 Introductory Biology Fall 2004 Instructors Professor Eric Lander Professor Robert A Weinberg Dr Claudette Gardel HUMORAL IMMUNOLOGY We are surrounded by a sea of microorganisms that threaten to overwhelm us This threat is made dramatically clear by the condition of AIDS where the immune system is crippled by a slowly progressive infection extending over a period of years In an AIDS patient opportunistic infectious agents including bacteria viruses and fungi take advantage of the weakened immune system to invade and multiply unhindered These are not exotic infectious agents rarely encountered in our environment but rather widely distributed disease causing agents that a healthy functional immune system is able to control under normal circumstances How does the immune system manage this control It does so in two ways as detailed below via humoral and cellular immunity Humoral immunity depends on the immune system s ability to produce antibody molecules which bind and inactivate infectious agents Cellular immunity involves the development of immune cells that are able to recognize bind and kill other cells that have previously been infected by foreign infectious agents THE HUMORAL IMMUNE SYSTEM The word humoral refers to fluids Latin humors that pass through the body In this case the fluids both blood plasma the non cellular fluid portion of blood and lymph the plasma like clear fluid that fills the space between cells and drains via lymph ducts to the lymph glands and eventually into the venous circulation carry specific molecules which are termed variously antibodies or immunoglobulins These are the mediators of the humoral immune response They recognize foreign infectious agents and help the immune system to eliminate them They are the eyes and the ears of the immune system The nature of antigens and antibodies Antibody molecules are complex proteins which have the ability to recognize and bind to the surface of a foreign infectious



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