What are antibodies?
Our health depends on the state of the body's immunity. If the immunity is weak, then we will constantly catch a cold, get sick, which further “knocks down” the state of the already weakened immunity. Then there are chronic "sores", leading to serious illness. How to break this vicious circle?
The immune system consists of various organs, but the main role in it is played by leukocytes (white blood cells) and antibodies. Let's now figure out what antibodies are? Antibodies are special proteins that are produced by cells of our immune system. They are needed in order to fight antigens.
The very first antibody was discovered by Kitazato and Bering back in 1890. However, apart from the fact that the nature of this antibody (namely, tetanus antitoxin) has a specific nature and is present in the serum of an immune animal, nothing concrete could be said. Only studies of Kabat and Tizelius conducted since 1937 gave rise to the study of the molecular basis of antibodies.
Antibodies can be both protein molecules and non-protein. Protein molecules as an antigen - these can be, for example, viruses, various pathogenic bacteria, malignant tumor cells, “foreign cells” (such cells can be ingested by blood transfusion, organ transplantation, etc.). It should be noted that antibodies have some specificity. In other words, certain antibodies can affect certain antigens. For example, serum with antibodies is injected into the body during a disease, but at the same time, this serum will not have any effect in other diseases, since with this disease there will be another antigen in the body.
How antibodies fight antigens
Antibodies fight antigens in several ways:
- They connect antigens (cells) into certain piles so that they cannot move. After that, they will be absorbed by macrophages - cells that are able to actively capture and digest bacteria.
- They form "holes" in the walls of antigens, as a result, their contents "leak out" and the cells die.
- Block antigens.This allows the cells of our immune system to destroy these cells.
The main functions of antibodies are in recognizing and binding antigens, and subsequently, the destruction of affected cells. Antibodies are produced in response to the entry of various antigens into our body. What are antibodies? For thyroid peroxidases, for example, these are specific immunoglobulins that are directed against the enzyme contained in the cells of our thyroid gland.
What is antibodies in the blood
Using a laboratory method, you can determine the presence or absence of antibodies and / or antigens in the blood. This method is called enzyme immunoassay. The analysis can be quantitative (determines the amount of antibodies or antigens) and qualitative (indicates the presence or absence of antibodies or antigens). Often, blood can be used as a biological material for research, but cerebrospinal fluid, amniotic fluid, etc. can also be used.
For example, in order to detect an antigen in a blood of a specific virus, it is necessary to insert antibodies specific for this virus into it.Conversely, in order to determine the presence and amount of antibodies in the blood, it is necessary to add antigens specific for the antibody to the blood. An immunoassay of blood will determine the level of hormones, antibodies, immunological complexes and other biologically active substances. The scope of this analysis is quite broad - diagnosis of immunodeficiency, endocrinology, tumor markers, diagnosis of viral diseases such as herpes, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis. What are antibodies to hepatitis C? For hepatitis C, all antibodies have the abbreviation anti-HCV. This means literally "against the hepatitis C virus." To establish the fact of human infection with the hepatitis C virus, besides ELISA, screening studies are also used.
Now you know that antibodies play a crucial role in our body. They help the immune system detect and neutralize foreign objects.
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