Important terms in Immunology


The following are some of the major terms used in immunology that you should keep in mind, as these are the basic ones and will be used most frequently.

  • Immune system: a group of cells, cell products ,organs that provide resistance against foreign bodies (antigen). Cells include B-lymphocytes , T-lymphocytes, products of various cells, macrophages dendritic cells and many more. among the organs Thymus, Spleen, and bone marrow, and secondary lymphatic tissues such as spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes.
  • Antigen: any substance (usually a protein or carbohydrate) capable of inducing an immune response.
  • Epitope: part of an antigen recognized by the immune system.
  • Antibody (Immunoglobulins) : a Y-shaped protein found in the blood or other bodily fluids produced by the B cells in response to an antigen.
  • B-lymphocytes  (B-cells): they are a type of white blood cells that function in the humoral immunity component of the adaptive immune system by secreting antibodies. They are produced in the bone marrow.
  • T-lymphocytes (T-cells): these are a type of white blood cells that function in he cell-mediated immunity component of the immune system. these are distinguished by the other cells by the presence of the TCR (T-cell receptor) and produced in the bone marrow but migrate to the thymus for maturation. these are of 2 types t-helper cells and t-cytotoxic cells.
  • T-Cell receptor: these are the heterodimeric antigen receptor of the T lymphocyte hat is responsible for recognizing fragments of antigen as peptides bound to major histocompatiblity complex (MHC) molecules.
  • Humoral immune response: immune response caused by the b-cells activation (activated by the T-helper cells) for the destruction of the antigen. they differentiate into memory b cells and plasma cells (they have the ability to secrete antibody) immune-system
  • Cell mediated immunity : it is another component of adaptive immunity but it does not produce antibodies rather it release various cytokinin in response to an antigen. T-cells are a central part of cell mediated immune system.
  • Immunodeficiency : inability of body from fighting diseases and infections. Eg: DiGeorge syndrome , SCID (sever combined immunodeficiency)
  • Autoimmunity: when the immune system of an organism work against its own cells i.e. it considers its self cells as non-self/ antigen and cause the destruction of that particular tissue/cell/organ. Eg: Grave’s disease
  • vaccines: a biological preparation of killed attenuated or live microorganism that help in enhancing immunity against diseases
  • Antigen presenting cells (APC): these cells display antibody complexed with major histocombatiblity complex (by the process antigen presenting)
  • Major Histocompatiblity Complex (MHC) :  is a set of cell surface proteins that help the immune system distinguish between harmful and safe foreign substances in the body.



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