Immune System Basics Essay

Immune System Basics Essay

The environment an organism lives in is full of dangers, so an organism should have some inner forces to withstand troubles and harm coming from the environment. A biological defense an organism is provided with from very birth is known as the immune system. There are different biological structures and specific processes that protect an organism from infection and disease. A properly working immune system detects dangerous agents coming from the outside and distinguishes them from the inner tissue. Dangerous agents vary from bacteria and viruses to parasitic worms that evolve rapidly and require an organism to evolve too. Therefore, innate immune system (humoral immunity) is not enough for an organism to survive, and adaptive immune system (cell-mediated immunity) develops as well.Immune System Basics Essay

First of all, physical barriers of an organism defend it from unwanted penetration of pathogens. Then, if bacteria or viruses do enter the organism, there will be an immediate response from the innate immune system. However, it should be underlined that such a first-layer response is non-specific. Further, “if pathogens successfully evade the innate response, vertebrates possess a second layer of protection, the adaptive immune system, which is activated by the innate response” (Janeway 76). A second-layer response is intended to facilitate further recognition of the already known pathogen. The improvement of response is possible due to the mechanism known as immunological memory. Immunological memory makes it possible for the immune system to mount rapidly and specifically. In other words, each time the known pathogen is encountered, the response of the adaptive immune system gets stronger and faster.Immune System Basics Essay


In the meantime, the main task for the immune system is to distinguish between “self” molecules and “non-self” molecules. As Thompson (320) explains, “the immune system learns to distinguish between “self” and “non-self” cells before birth so that it attacks only those substances that aren’t part of the body.” In the terms of immunology, “self” cells are the components of an organism itself. Non self cells are any foreign substances. The “non-self” cells are known as antigens (abbreviation for antibody generators). Antigens trigger immune response by binding to specific immune receptors (Janeway 111). If the immune system fails to distinguish between “self” and foreign molecules, it can result in autoimmune diseases when the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissues taking them for foreign cells. Among other well-known disorders of the immune system are immunodeficiency, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. The immune system disorders can lead to life-threatening infections, thereby it is important to prevent them or at least treat them in time.

First of all, it is important to keep to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep and rest as well as healthy well-balanced nutrition are crucial for immune function. Overnutrition is as bad as malnutrition, so it is important to avoid both. “Weight reduction schemes using diets with less than 1200 kcal per day can also reduce immune function, an excellent reason to avoid unhealthy “crash diets””, Langley-Evans and Carrington (749) underline. Nutritionist recommend to boost immune system by the following nutrients: selenium and zinc, vitamins A, B2, B6, C, D, and E. Finally, as medicine has advanced essentially during the last century, there are various drugs to support immune system either to suppress autoimmunity or to control the effects of inflammation when the organism fails to cope with it.Immune System Basics Essay