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Immune System

  • Date Submitted: 04/13/2010 10:35 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 32.8 
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Immune System
Immune System, group of cells, molecules, and organs that act together to defend the body against foreign invaders that may cause disease, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The health of the body is dependent on the immune system’s ability to recognize and then repel or destroy these invaders. The ability of the immune system to mount a response to disease is dependent on many complex interactions between the components of the immune system and the antigens on the invading pathogens, or disease-causing agents.
White blood cells only make up about 1 percent of blood, but their small number belies their immense importance. They play a vital role in the body’s immune system—the primary defense mechanism against invading bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. They often accomplish this goal through direct attack, which usually involves identifying the invading organism as foreign, attaching to it, and then destroying it. This process is referred to as phagocytosis. White blood cells also produce antibodies, which are released into the circulating blood to target and attach to foreign organisms. After attachment, the antibody may neutralize the organism, or it may elicit help from other immune system cells to destroy the foreign substance. There are two varieties of white blood cells, namely lymphocytes and phagocytes, both of which interact with one another and with plasma proteins and other cell types to form the complex and highly effective immune system.

Lymphocytes are specialized white blood cells whose function is to identify and destroy invading antigens. All lymphocytes begin as “stem cells” in the bone marrow, the soft tissue that fills most bone cavities, but they mature in two different places. Some lymphocytes mature in the bone marrow and are called B lymphocytes. B lymphocytes, or B cells, make antibodies, which circulate through the blood and other body fluids, binding to antigens and helping to destroy them....


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