Immune System

The immune system is an integrated system of organs, tissues, cells, and cell by-products (such as antibodies) that differentiates self from non-self and neutralizes potentially pathogenic organisms or substances. The body defends itself against foreign proteins and infectious microorganisms by means of a complex dual system that depends on recognizing foreign patterns. The two parts of the system are termed cellular immunity, in which lymphocytes are the effective agent, and humoral immunity, based on the action of molecules.

When particular lymphocytes recognize a foreign molecular pattern, termed an antigen, they release antibodies in great numbers; other lymphocytes store the memory of the pattern for future release of antibodies should the molecule reappear. Antibodies attach themselves to the antigen and mark it for destruction by other substances in the body's defense system, such as enzymes and phagocytes. The latter are cells that engulf and digest foreign matter.

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