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The Immune System

asavannah's picture

      Our body is one of the most magnificent creations which is extremely complex and has trillions of different cells that work together to contribute to our survival. The immune system is one of the most intricate and interesting systems of the body. The function of the immune system is to help our bodies fight against harmful bacteria, parasites, microbes, toxins, and viruses. Without this special system, these harmful antigens would invade our bodies and cause it to decompose very quickly as you with dead people; when we die everything shuts down. Deficiencies in our immune system will also make us susceptible to contracting several different types of viruses. We desperately need our immune system because it’s what keeps us healthy and is a very good indicator that an organism is alive.
      When foreign objects enter into our bodies via air, open cuts, insect bites, allergens, and so on, the body reacts in a very interesting way. Common reactants of the immune system are fevers, inflammation, hives, bumps, vomiting, and diarrhea to indicate that there is something in our bodies that should not be there and now our immune system is trying to force these objects out.
        A person who contains a very strong immune system is able to ward off many diseases but sadly everyone is not this lucky. Those who have weak immune systems are more susceptible to bacteria attacking their system. This will cause the system to give up and the person will now become sick with a virus.
       There are several different components of the immune system that all work together to fight off diseases. One of the most obvious and largest is the skin. Our skin is a very important factor to our survival. It is what protects our organs inside of the body and helps to keep harmful germs from entering. The epidermis is the outer protective layer of the skin. This layer contains cells that are called Langerhans cells that warn the immune system that there is something foreign to the body that is trying to get in.
       Germs can enter into our bodies easily through our nose, eyes, and mouth. But thanks to our bodies, we have cells that surround these areas and act as a shield to try and keep these harmful germs from entering into the body. Our mucus and tears contain an enzyme called lysozyme, this breaks down the cell wall of several types of bacteria. The germs that are not killed by the first set of cells are then trapped in our saliva and swallowed.
       When the germs are inside of the body, they then have to deal with another level of the immune system which contains the thymus, antibodies, lymph system, white blood cells, the spleen, bone marrow, and several other components that work together to fight off germs.
       The thymus is located in between the heart and the breast bone. It produces T-cells which are activated by Interleukin-1. When these cells are turned on they produce Interleukin-2, interferon, and other chemicals. The chemicals then active the B cells and these cells produce antibodies.
       Antibodies are also a very important part of the process. They are Y-shaped proteins that are produced by white blood cells. White blood cells are a collection of different types of cells that work together to obliterate viruses and bacteria. Each antibody has a specific antigen that it responds to when they enter into the system. The tips of the antibodies are very sensitive to a certain antigen. When this antigen is picked up, the branches of the antibody binds to it. The binding of the antibody and the toxin is called an antitoxin; when this takes place the chemicals in the toxin are disabled by the antibody. This stops the movement of the bacteria because the antibody enters into the cell wall and sends signals for it to stop.       
       There are certain times when the immune system does not respond properly and causes mistakes in the body. Autoimmunity is one type of mistake that occurs when the immune system attacks its own body the way it would an antigen. Allergies are also another form of mistake. For some reason, the system reacts strongly to an allergen that should be ignored and in turn causes the body to respond sneezing, having a runny nose, etc. Another type of mistake is when the body rejects tissues or organs from transplants. Of course the body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do because technically these are foreign objects but in this case it is more hurtful than helpful. This problem can possibly be solved by carefully matching the tissue donor and recipient. Immunosuppressant drugs are used during the process of the transplant to ensure that it is successful but these drugs can also cause problems because they cause the body prone to infection.      
       From my research on this particular topic I found that the immune system is a very elaborate function of our bodies. It is vital for our survival because it rids our bodies of harmful particles. Without it we would become victims to antigens that want to destroy our bodies.        

Work Cited

“Immune System.” Wikipedia. 2007 Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.  20 Dec. 2007

Brian, Marshall. “How Your Immune System Works.” 2007 How Stuff Works: It’s Good to Know.  16 Dec. 2007.