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Immunology

Advanced High School or College Level Immunology terms

AB
AntibodyAn immune system molecule that may attach to an antigen. They are on the surface of B Cells and also in the blood and other body fluids. Also called Immunoglobulin (Ig).
AntigenSomething that causes an immune response when they are bound by antibodies or T-Cell receptors. Examples are bacteria, viruses and allergy causing substances.
B Lymphocyte (B Cell)Type of white blood cell (Leukocyte) that makes and secretes antibodies and also carries them on its surface.
T Lymphocyte (T Cell)Type of white blood cell (Leukocyte) that carries on its surface T-Cell Receptor molecules. There are two types, T Helper cells and T Killer cells.
T-Cell ReceptorImmune system molecules on the surface of T Cells which attaches to antigens when the antigens are held by the HLA molecules of Antigen Presenting Cells (APC).
T Helper CellsA type of T Cell that helps activate other parts of the immune system by making chemicals called leukokines. They have CD4 molecules on their surfaces.
T Killer CellsA type of T Cell that attacks cancerous or virus infected cells of the body. They are also known as Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTL). They have CD8 molecules on their surfaces.
HIVHuman Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus which attacks T Helper Cells and causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV gains entry into the T Helper Cells by attaching to the CD4 molecule.
CD4The surface molecule that identifies T Helper Cells. Site of entry by HIV.
CD8The surface molecule which identifies T Killer Cells.
IgGThe main class of antibody (immunoglobulin) in the blood.
IgMThe class of antibody (immunoglobulin) that is predominantly present in the early stages of immune responses.
IgAThe class type of antibody (immunoglobulin) that is predominantly present secretions such as saliva and milk.
IgEThe class of antibody (immunoglobulin) which causes allergic reactions.
MacrophageA scavenger white blood cell that engulfs and destroys antigens that have antibodies attached to them. They are similar in function to Neutrophils.
Monoclonal AntibodiesIdentical antibodies produced by genetically identical (cloned) B Cells. These cloned B Cells are created by fusion with tumor cells and are called Hybridomas.
APCAntigen Presenting Cell, a cell (such as a B Cell or a Dendrytic Cell) which holds an antigen with a class I HLA molecule and shows it to a T Helper Cell which then starts an immune response.
ApoptosisProgrammed cell suicide, the process by which a T Killer Cell destroys virus-infected or cancerous cells. It is also the way that self-reactive (autoimmune) T Cells are eliminated.
Immune ResponseResponse to an antigen, including clonal expansion (increase in number) of B and T Cells which can attach to the antigen. Inflammation or fever may also occur.
Complement CascadeA series of blood molecules that destroy antigens that have antibodies attached to them.
Autoimmune DiseaseA disease in which the bodies own immune system attacks and damages the body such as Type I Diabetes, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Acquired ImmunityImmunity acquired after exposure to a given disease. A patient may then become immune to that disease.
ImmunizationThe process of exposing a patient to a small amount of inactivated antigen to cause acquired immunity. A vaccine against a disease causes a patient to become immunized against that disease.
Allergic ReactionAn immune response to an allergen. An IgE antibody attaches to the allergen and is bound by a basophil (or mast cell) that releases histamine.
AllergenA substance such as pollen, cat dander or dust mites which causes an allergic reaction which is a type of immune response.
AntiserumAntibody containing blood serum from an animal that has been immunized against a specific antigen. An example would be horse serum from a horse immunized against rattlesnake venom.
Bone MarrowThe place where human B cells are produced from stem cells. B cells are named after the Bursa of Fabricius, the organ in chickens in which B cells are produced.
ThymusThe organ in which T Cells are produced and in which they undergo a process of selection to eliminate autoimmune T Cells. T Cells are named after the thymus.
CD3Cell surface molecules on T Cells that are associated with T-Cell receptor molecules.
Cell Mediated ImmunityImmunity caused by cells (such as T Killer Cells and macrophages).
Humoral ImmunityImmunity caused by substances in the blood or lymph system such as antibodies or the complement cascade.
MHCThe mouse version of the Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA). The Major Histocompatibility Complex molecules on the surface of cells display antigens to T Cells thus causing T Cell activation.
HLAThe Human Leucocyte Antigen molecules on the surface of cells hold antigens for T Cells to recognize. There are two types, class I and class II. Known as the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) in mice.
Class I HLAClass I Human Leucocyte Antigen molecules on the surface of cancerous or virus-infected cells show antigens to Killer T Cells which then destroy the cancerous or virus-infected cells.
Class II HLAClass II Human Leucocyte Antigen molecules on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APC) show antigens to Helper T Cells which then make leukokines which active the immune response.
Class RestrictionClass I HLA (with antigens) are only recognized by Killer T Cells. Class II HLA (with antigens) are only recognized by Helper T Cells.
Class switchMechanism by which B Cells switch from producing one type of antibody to another, usually starting with IgM, and proceeding to IgA, IgG or IgE.
Clonal ExpansionThe growth of B Cells or T Cells when activated by contact with an antigen. Thus when an infection occurs, the cells that best fight the infection divide and produce more of themselves.
LymphocytesA type of white blood cell (Leukocyte) such as B Cells, T Cells and natural killer cells.
CyclosporinDrug used to suppress immune reactions in transplant patients thus preventing rejection of the transplant.
LymphokinesSubstances such as Interleukin-2 or Gamma Interferon which are produced by lymphocytes and activate other immune system cells. Also known as cytokines.
ELISAEnzyme Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay, an antibody-based assay used to determine the presence of a specific substance by binding to the antibody. Often used in medical tests.
FabFragment Antibody-Binding, the part of an antibody that binds to an antigen. Each basic antibody has two of these.
FcFragment Constant, the part of an antibody that binds to complement molecules, basophils, complement or macrophages. Each basic antibody has one of these.
GVHDGraft versus Host Disease often occurs when an immunosuppressed patient receives a bone marrow transplant. The transplant then makes an immune response against the patient.
ImmunosuppressionReduced ability to make an immune response and fight disease. Caused by diseases (such as AIDS and SCID) or drugs such as Cyclosporin which is used to prevent transplant rejection.
GranulocyteGranule containing white blood cells such as Basophils, Eosinophils and Neutrophils. The granules may contain a chemical like histamine.
BasophilA white blood cell that causes allergic reactions by releasing histamine. They release histamine after binding to IgE antibodies. They are similar to Mast cells.
Mast CellsImmune system cell that causes allergic reactions by releasing histamine. They release histamine after binding to IgE antibodies. They are similar to Basophils.
NeutrophilA scavenger white blood cell that attacks antigens that have antibodies attached to them. They are similar in function to Macrophages.
Heavy ChainThe larger of two proteins contained an antibody. There are usually two heavy chains and two light chains in each antibody.
Light ChainThe smaller of two proteins contained in an antibody. There are usually two heavy chains and two light chains in each antibody.
Alpha ChainOne of two proteins contained in a T-Cell receptor. Most T-Cell receptors contain one and also contain one beta chain and a set of CD3 molecules. Some T-Cell receptors have two different chains (gamma and delta).
Beta ChainOne of two proteins contained in a T-Cell receptor. Most T-Cell receptors contain one and also contain one alpha chain and a set of CD3 molecules. Some T-Cell receptors have two different chains (gamma and delta).
AgglutinationThe ability of antibodies to clump antigens together so they can be easily eliminated by scavenger cells such as macrophages and neutrophils.
HistamineA chemical released by Basophils and Mast Cells which causes allergic reactions.
AntihistamineA drug used to counter the effects of histamine and reduce allergic reactions.
HybridomaAn artificial B Cell made by fusion of a B Cell and a tumor cell. They make monoclonal antibodies.
LymphomaA cancer of organs which contain lymphocytes such as the thymus or spleen.
LeukemiaCancer of white blood cells.
LeukocyteWhite Blood Cell.
Natural Killer CellLymphocyte which lacks antibodies or T-Cell receptors but can kill some types of cancer cells.
Polyclonal AntibodiesA mixture of different antibodies (such as is normally found in the blood) which are specific against the same antigen. These antibodies may attach to a different epitope on the antigen.
ABO AntigensAntigens on the surface of red blood cells. A blood transfusion of an incorrect blood type into a recipient will cause an immune response against the transfused blood.
Gene RearrangementThe way that a vast diversity of antibodies and T-Cell receptors is generated. Different V, D and J gene segments are mixed to form many different antibodies.
Generation of DiversityThe creation of many different antibodies and T-Cell receptors using a small number of V, D and J genes by gene rearrangement.
V, D and J GenesVariable, Joining and Diversity Genes that are mixed and matched to make the vast diversity of antibodies and T-Cell receptors.
Memory CellA type of B Cell that persists after an antigen has been eliminated and then is able to respond if that antigen reappears. This is the mechanism by which immunity to a disease occurs.
LysozymeA molecule present in saliva that binds to and destroys bacteria.
Adaptive Immune ResponseParts of the immune system that adapt to new antigens. This occurs by generating a vast diversity of different B Cells and T Cells and then clonal expansion of those which react against the antigen.
Non-adaptive Immune systemParts of the immune system that don’t change in response to an antigen such as macrophages, lysozyme and natural killer cells.
InflammationIncrease in redness, swelling and temperature caused by the entry of white blood cells (leukocytes) into a site of infection or irritation. White blood cells are attracted by cytokines.
Passive ImmunityImmunity passed from mother to baby by IgA antibodies present in milk. The immune system of newborn babies is still undeveloped.
SpleenImportant immune system organ. It is near the liver and contains both B Cells and T Cells. It expands in infected individuals.
Immune System OrgansThymus, Spleen, Lymph Nodes. Bone Marrow
Lymph NodesJunctions in the lymphatic system. They contain B Cells and T Cells which often contact antigens here and become activated.
Transplant RejectionTransplanted organs are rejected if they have different HLA molecules. The transplants are attacked by T Killer cells. Rejection can be suppressed by the use of Cyclosporin.
Multipotent Stem CellThe parent cell of all white blood cells (and red blood cells) including lymphocytes, macrophages, granulocytes and platelets. They are in the Bone Marrow.
Thymic SelectionElimination of self-reactive (autoimmune) T Cells in the thymus. Failure of this process may result in autoimmune disease.
Multiple SclerosisAn autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system.
Type I DiabetesAn autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks insulin producing cells in the Pancreas.
Rheumatoid ArthritisAn autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks joints.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE)An autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks red blood cells and DNA.
EpitopeThe place on an antigen where an antibody or T-Cell receptor attaches.
CytokinesChemicals which activate (or suppress) parts of the immune system such as Interleukin-4 and Gamma Interferon, also called leukokines.
LeukokinesChemicals made by white blood cells (leukocytes) which activate (or suppress) parts of the immune system such as Interleukin-4 and Gamma Interferon, also called cytokines
AIDSAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV destroys T Helper Cells causes immunosuppression and vulnerability to other diseases.
SCIDPatients who have defects in both B Cells and T Cells have Severe Combined Immunodeficiency disease. They are immunosuppressed and cannot fight other diseases.
MouseAn animal used in many immunology experiments. The mouse immune system has many similarities to the human immune system.


Erik Wilson

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