Last report, I explained that the immune system is the body’s defense mechanism. When the defense mechanism is weakened, a disease or medical condition is the result. The hard part of understanding the function of this complex mechanism is trying to differentiate between the different components of the system. The components are white blood cells that are given different names for performing different functions. The following are examples of the different names and the functions they provide:
- T lymphocytes– switches various aspects of the system on and off.
- B cells– manufactures antibodies
- Phagocytes– the scavengers
- Macrophage cells- eats the debris in tissue and blood and alerts certain T cells to the presence of antigens.
- Mast cells– release histamine in the bloodstream.
- Killer and helper T cells- they zero in on cells infected by antigens.
The whole purpose of all these different defense components is to offer the body a defense mechanism. It is a very complex working mechanism that sometimes fails and the result is having these cells attack the body’s own tissues and cells instead of foreign cells. This is called an autoimmune response, or an autoimmune disease.
The animals body is under constant attack from pathogens or disease carrying parasites. The skin and coat offers the first level of protection by preventing the pathogens from entering the body. The secret to the immune system’s success is an elaborate and dynamic communication network and memory system. Millions of cells of different types pass information back and forth like a swarm of bees. Antibodies which are the bodies infection fighters, remember foreign invaders and can stop a repeat invasion. Once developed, an immunity can last for a lifetime.
The goal is for the balanced immune system to distinguish between friend and foe and only attack foreign invaders, avoiding the bodies own tissues. The intricacy of the immune system’s functioning are far beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say that the immune system is designed to resist infection and functions to respond to pathogens.
That is the easiest explanation I can give for it’s function.
posted by Rob Mueller