How Does Immune System Work – Functions and Purpose

by | Apr 5, 2020 | Anatomy | 0 comments


The immune system is made up of different structures and processes in the body, and its function is to protect against diseases and potentially harmful foreign bodies.

Did You know? In 2019, scientists from USA overcame immunodeficiency with gene therapy.

A properly functioning immune system identifies a variety of hazards, for example, viruses, bacteria and parasites, distinguishing them from the body’s healthy tissues.

Innate And Acquired Immunity

You could say, that there are two types of immunity – 

  1. Innate or Non-specific
  2. Acquired 

Innate immunity is called the immune system, with which the baby comes into the world. It comprises various barriers on the outside and inside of the body, which protects against dangers.

Innate Immunity Elements –

  • Skin
  • Gastric Acid
  • Enzyme Found In Tears
  • Sebaceous Glands Of The Skin
  • Mucus
  • Coughing Reflex
  • Chemical Components (interferon and interleukin-1).

We also refer innate immunity to as non-specific immunity, meaning that it does not protect against specific threats.

However, acquired immunity protects against specific threats. This immune system is more complicated, because organisms first must treat and recognize the hazard, then developing antibodies, which would prevent it.

After mitigation, the adaptive system “remembers” it, and in the future, responding to the same type of threat will be more effective.

Parts Of The Immune System

Lymph nodes are pea-sized formations, which produces and maintains cells to fight infections and diseases; Lymph nodes are part of lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system includes –

  • Bone Marrow
  • Spleen
  • Thymus
  • Lymph Nodes

Inside of lymph nodes are lymph – transparent liquid, that carries cells to necessary parts in the body.

Did You know? Inside of 1 microliter of blood there are 5000-10000 white blood cells.

When the body is struggling with an infection, the lymph nodes may enlarge and hurt. The largest lymphoid organ is the spleen, which is on the left side between the ribs and stomach – white blood cells, which fight infections and diseases, are found in spleen.

The spleen helps control the amount of blood in the body and removes obsolete and unusable cells.

The bone marrow is called the yellow substance inside the bones. It is producing white blood cells. In some bones, for example, the hip and thigh bone contain immature cells that are called stem cells. 

Stem cells, especially embryonic, which are got from artificially fertilized ovum, are especially valuable, because it can transform into any type of cell in the human body.

Small white blood cells play a very important role in protecting the body against the disease that is called lymphocytes.

There are 2 types of lymphocytes – B cells, that that forms antibodies, that work against toxins and bacteria, and T cells, that work against infected and cancer cells.

T cells have several subgroups – cytotoxic T cells, which kill cells infected with or otherwise damaged by viruses and other pathogens, and CD4+ cells effect, what is the body’s response to a particular pathogen.

T cells are developing in small organ – Thymus. This part of immune system is very important. Thymus is behind the sternum and in shapes resembles a thyme leaf.

This gland can stimulate or maintain the release of antibodies, which can cause muscle weakness. Interesting, that infant thymus is quite large, and it keeps growing till teen age, and after that it shrinks.

The second major pillar of the innate immune system is leukocytes – white blood cells that prevent illness. High white blood cell level in body is called – leukocytosis.

Development Of Immunology

  • In 1718 Lady Mary Wortley Montegoy notices a positive effect after a deliberate chickenpox infection and tries this technique on her children.
  • In 1796 Edward Jenner is the first to demonstrate a vaccine agaisnt chickenpox.
  • In 1840 Friedrich Gustav Jacob Henle puts forward the first modern theory bacteria as a source of disease.
  • In 1857-1870 Louis Paste proves the role of microbes in the fermentation process.
  • In 1880-1881 Theory is born, that bacteria could be used to create the vaccine. Paste tests this theory, experimenting with vaccines against avian cholera and anthrax.
  • In 1886 American microbiologist Theobald Smith demonstrates, as heat-deactivated avian cholera bacilli can be effectively used as protection against cholera.
  • In 1903 Maurice Aryuss describes a local allergic reaction, now called the Artyuss reaction.
  • In 1949 John Enders, Thomas Vellers and Frederick Robins exterminating with polio virus cultivation.
  • In 1951 A vaccine against yellow fever was invented.
  • In 1983 French virologist Luc Montagnier detects HIV
  • In 1986 Advances in genetic engineering have led to the development of a hepatitis B vaccine.
  • In 2005 Ian Fraser develops a vaccine against the human papillomavirus.

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