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Mounting an Immune Response
Understanding the Immune System

Adapted by Mary Shomon

Infections remain the most common cause of human disease. Produced by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, infections may range from relatively mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, to debilitating conditions like chronic hepatitis, to life-threatening diseases such as AIDS and meningitis.

immune system weapons

To fend off the threatening horde, the body as devised astonishingly intricate defenses. Microbes attempting to enter the body must first find a chink in the body's external protection. The skin and the mucous membranes that line the body's portals not only pose a physical barrier, they are also rich in scavenger cells and IgA antibodies.

Next, invaders must elude a series of nonspecific defenses-those cells and substances equipped to tackle infectious agents without regard for their antigenic peculiarities. Many potential infections are cut short when microbes are intercepted by patrolling scavenger cells or disabled by complement or other enzymes or chemicals. Virus-infected cells, for instance, secrete interferon, a chemical that rouses natural killer cells.

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All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new treatment program. Please see our full disclaimer.