To understand allergies and their negative immune response I have chosen to start with understanding what happens when the immune system responds appropriately.
If our bodies immune response played to a soundtrack, it would be Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4. Starts slow, then works itself into a frenzy.
With the help of Paul Andersen’s excellent walk through of the immune system, I will attempt to break down what I have learned.
The Immune System Breakdown
We start with an antigen (invader).
The foreign substance is identified and eaten by a macrophage. (A type of white blood cell that ingests foreign material.)
The macrophage secrets enzymes (Protein that initiates a chemical reaction but won’t be altered itself) breaking up the antigen.
A little bit of the foreign substance left from the break up rises to the top of the macrophage. The macrophage then introduces the antigen to the T-cell. (White blood cell produced to regulate the immune system’s response to diseased or malignant cells.)
T-helper cell (Provides help to other cells in the immune response) is activated producing activated Killer T-cells (specializes in attacking virus, cancer, and bacteria cells) AND Activated B-cells. (A type of white blood cell that produces antibodies.) They will clone and multiply.
The B-cell looks for antigens that match the produced receptors. The B-cell grabs onto the bacteria.
The Helper T-cell is a champ providing protein needed to a created activated B-cells AND Killer T-cells.
Once the B-cell is activated it breaks up and produces a plasma cell (antibodies) that will attack the bacteria and create a memory cell.(These cells have a prolonged life span and can thereby “remember” specific intruders.)
The antigens in the humors of the body are attacked by antibodies and bacteria is ridden.
The Killer T-cell that is already attached to the cell infected by the antigen will secrete enzymes and the invaders will be eliminated.
A Little Awesomeness
I found it AWESOME this complex process leaves behind memory cells stored in the body in case the same invader returns. It will be activated, and you will heal much quicker from the invader.
Now that we understand an immune system that functions appropriately, the focus for the next few weeks can be on understanding allergies and their inappropriate immune response.
References and Medical Definitons:
Here are the medical terms I wanted to understand. I pulled the definitions form Medline Plus, medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary, and MedicineNet.
Antigen: “An antigen is any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. An antigen may be a foreign substance from the environment such as chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or pollen.”
Macrophage: “A type of white blood cell that ingests foreign material. Macrophages are key players in the immune response to foreign invaders of the body, such as infectious microorganisms. They are normally found in the liver, spleen, and connective tissues of the body.”
T-cell: “A type of white blood cell produced in the thymus gland that regulates the immune system’s response to diseased or malignant cells.”
T-helper cells: ” A type of T cell that provides help to other cells in the immune response by recognizing foreign antigens and secreting substances called cytokines that activate T and B cells.”
Killer T-cells: “Specialized in attacking cells of the body infected by viruses and sometimes also by bacteria”
B-cells:”A type of white blood cell and, specifically, a type of lymphocyte.”
Enzymes: “A protein that catalyzes chemical reactions of other substances without itself being destroyed or altered upon completion of the reactions.
Memory cell:”These cells have a prolonged life span and can thereby “remember” specific intruders.”