Don’t feel lost when people talk about things like the immune system, antibody, antigens, immunoglobulin and other fancy biological terms. In this article: ‘Epic Battle Raging in Our Immune System: Antigens Vs Antibodies‘, we’ll answer basic terms and answer the questions like, What is Immune System? How does Immune System work? and Some components of the Immune System. These days people are becoming health conscious and of course, nobody wants to be sick unless you are a school kid who is unprepared for an exam which is next day, but that kid too wants to be healthy just the day after the next day.
After reading this article, surely you won’t be a doctor. But you will be an informed conservationist on general things related to the immune system. And when you’ll talk, your friends and peers will pause to listen to you or will feel jealous about your intelligence. And some will also wonder that, can they be like you? And a bonus thing is that you’ll be upgrading some knowledge about oneself which can help you to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
This battle of good vs the bad is being raging on inside your body even before you were born and will continue till the very end. Those who have sworn to defend you will stake everything just to see you happy, healthy and smiling. Let’s witness this battle and support our guys.
In simple words, “Immune System”, is your body’s personal and private security that defends you against harmful invasions from disease causing bugs. These disease causing bugs are so small that they are called microbes. They can be bacteria, fungi, virus, protozoa etc. Normally they come from outside the body.
Antigens aka the Invaders
The immune system fights these harmful invaders. We can call these harmful invaders as antigens. All these antigens are also called as pathogens which means, disease causing bugs. But to sound more classy, we call them “Antigens”.
Antibodies aka Immunoglobulin
So now we know that the enemy we fight is the “Antigens”. When the fight is taking place, our defending army is called “Antibody”. So we now definitely say that “Antibodies fight Antigens”. If “Antibodies win, we live, if Antibodies lose, we can fall sick for sure or can die too”. Just like an army has many units and battalions for different purposes, so does our own army has many different units and battalions.
In general, your army is composed of “White Blood Cells”, they are also called as ‘Leukocytes’. These guys are guarding you day and night and are on constant vigil by conducting ever continuous patrols to see if something unwanted has come inside your system. The moment they see any pathogen i.e. antigen or a disease causing bug, they begin the mission to protect you by eliminating the enemy. They are of two types, Phagocytes – who do all the close combat dirty fighting and eats up the enemy; and Lymphocytes – Who remembers who attacked you and if he returns again, how to deal with it.
Another fancy name of these antibodies is ‘immunoglobulin” (Ig). Use this fancy name to spin off your friends and make them wonder the depth of your knowledge.
How Does Immune System Works – The Battlefield
Since we know a little basic about our armed forces, let us understand how these detect and fight the terrorist who wants to keep us sick and maybe wants to kill us. Let us know how our heroes work.
Guards On-duty: Patrolling
‘White Blood Cells’, are on patrolling, then suddenly one of them see an outsider, i.e. an entity which does not belong to our body. Our immune system knows the concept of ‘self’ and ‘non-self’. Our body itself is made up of many organisms. That’s why we are called multi-cellular organism. So our immunity army must be able to distinguish between our own cells and outside bodies present inside us.
Intruder and Rouge Elements
The threat is not just from these pathogens (the classy term for disease causing micro-bugs) but also from those cells inside our body which are damaged, unhealthy, malfunctioning etc. and from toxins produced in the body which could be due to any infection. So our immune system categorises threats as DAMPS and PAMPS. DAMPS mean “Danger Associated Molecular Patterns” which hints towards unhealthy and damaged cells. PAMPS mean “Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns” which means disease causing infectious microbes aka pathogens aka antigens.
As soon as the threat is detected, the armed division of lymphocytes comes into action. Remember I told you that our main army, “The White Blood Cells” is comprised of two divisions, phagocytes and lymphocytes. So now the battalion of lymphocytes comes to action. These lymphocytes have very specialized units called B-Lymphocytes and T-Lymphocytes. Just like an army has commandoes, para-troopers, gunners etc. B-Lymphocytes have five special forces to your rescue, they are :
- IgA – Blocks the enemy’s way to enter your body and tries to throw them out. It prevents them to arrive in large numbers. It is often found in tears, saliva, mucous etc
- IgD – It activates other B-lymphocytes and brings them to the battlefield.
- IgE – Fights with parasites and releases a chemical called histamines, often blamed for allergies.
- IgG – It exposes all the bad bugs so that your army can strike them hard. It is the only immunoglobulin which even protects the foetus. It is useful in passive immunization.
- IgM – Your sniper boy, he kills the bad bacteria.
Reinforcements and Kill Teams
With the above mentioned dudes, the T-Cells also join the party. Helper T Cells helps to bring reinforcements and shout out at B-lymphocyte cells to manage the war-party and they also call out their big brother, the ‘Killer T Cells’ (cytotoxic T lymphocytes) to the fight. These ‘Killer T-Cells’ are specialized in destroying viruses.
Thereby we all have seen how this fights out. We are all winners because we are healthy. The moment our army starts losing big time, hospitalization is needed. So next time, God forbids,, if you are sick, eat food which is good for immunity, drink water and take rest so that your forces are well supplied and full of firepower when they are out to defend you.
“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”– Joseph Pilates.
After reading this article: ‘Epic Battle Raging in Our Immune System: Antigens Vs Antibodies‘ , I hope now you can talk to your friends and are ready to show-off your knowledge with pride. But don’t let the pride affect you.
Keep learning and keep growing.