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Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems
Now that we discussed the minute details of our immune system, let us actually connect the dots and summarize our results. When some sort of pathogen such as a bacterial cell, virus, parasite or even a simple allergen is able to invade the tissue of our body, lets say through a cut in our skin, our immune system will response with a defense mechanism. The two cells that are typically found within that tissue are innate immune cells called mast cells and dendritic cells. Mast cells non-specifically bind antigens onto their membrane receptors and begin releasing different types of chemicals such as histamine (increases blood flow via vasodilation and increases permeability of capillaries to water), heparin (anti-coagulant, makes the blood more leaky) and molecules such as cytokines which call upon other innate immune cells such as the granulocytes (neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils), natural killer cells and macrophages. At the same time that mast cells bind the pathogenic antigens, the dendritic cells also found in nearby tissue engulf these antigens, digest them and display the epitope portion of the antigen on special membrane proteins called major histocompatibility complexes (MHC). These dendritic cells then actually leave the tissue and move into the blood, where they travel to the lymph nodes. Inside the lymph nodes, these dendritic cells interact with B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, which then mount a specific defense response to the antigens that are carried by the dendritic cells. B-cells differentiate into plasma cells (produce antibodies for that antigen) and membrane B-cells (store a copy of antibody in case of reinfection). The T-lymphocytes can differentiate into helper T-cells, cytotoxic T-cells memory T-cells and suppressor T-cells. Therefore we see that the link between the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system are the dendritic cells of our body. These cells pick up the message on the front line (the cut in our skin) and carry it to where the B-cells and T-cells are found, which is inside our blood and in the lymph.
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