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Cell Mediated and Humoral Immunity

Lymph Cells

The body's Humoral immune system is dominated by circulating Antibodies (proteins that bind to other proteins specifically). These Abs are produced primarily by B Cell lymphocytes. The body's cell mediated immunity involved T cells, macrophages, and other leukocytes.

All of the cells in the blood are derived from the same progenitor cells, the hematopoietic stem cells of the bone marrow. Since we are dealing with the immune system, we shall be concerned only with cells of the leukocyte lineage (B-cells, T-cells, and various monocytes such as macrophages). For an example of the development of a neutrophil, a component of the innate immune system, take note of the image below. All of these cells begin their differentiation in the bone marrow but, of the three cell types mentioned, only the B-cells complete it there. T-cells finish their development in the thymus, and monocytes in the blood stream exit into the tissues where they become many different types of cells (eg. macrophages and dendritic cells).

Neutrophil Devp.
However, even after maturation lymphocytes(B and T cells) have yet to undergo many changes before they are ready to carry out their duties as the mediators of the adaptive immune response. T Lymphocytes come in two main varieties: Cytotoxic T-Cells and Helper T-cells. Each plays an important role in effectively controlling infections and aiding the humoral side of the immune response to an Ag. When an antigen is first encountered, typically a Macrophage engulfs it and breaks it apart using very acidic conditions and proteases. Next, the Macrophage will present a small portion of this antigen (6-20 Amino Acids) on its surface. This Antigen is presented with an MHC Type II complex (Major Histocompatibility Complex)- used exclusively in the cells of the immune system. If a non-immune cell displays an antigen, it is typically with an MHC type one complex (indicating to Cytotoxic T-cells that they should destroy this presenting cell). The cell is destroyed because if something is presented with MHC I, it signals that the Antigen is inside the cell (e.g. viral genome products). If a cell is infected, there is little your immune system can do but kill it to prevent viral spread. A typical presentation is that by a Macrophage to a Helper T-cell. The Helper T-cell will process the antigen and then signal to a B Lymphocyte to product Antibodies to the Antigen. Ciruclating antibodies are perhaps the most important way to keep foreign material out out of your body. Antibodies also give you the ability to "remember" an antign and properly erspond to it if you encounter it again.

3d Structure of an Anitbody Molecule
Bovine Lymph Node

Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) of T cell Lymphocytes attacking a cancer cell.
T cells/cancer

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