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Introduction to Immune System
Instead of being localized at a specific organ, the human immune system is actually spread out among many different areas of the body. It uses a variety of different defense mechanisms and specialized cells to catch any pathogens that might enter the body. A pathogen is any agent, living or non-living, that can bring harm to the cells of our body. One of the main functions of the immune system is to be able to differentiate between its own cells and foreign pathogens. This can be done because the cells of the body contain unique macromolecules that are used by the immune system to distinguish them from the pathogens. On the contrary, the pathogens (such as bacterial cells) actually contain their own unique macromolecules that can be used by the immune system to seek them out and kill them off. Any substance that can be used to initiate a set of immune defense mechanisms is known as an antigen. Our immune system can be divided into two - the innate (non-specific) immune system and the acquired (specific) immune system. The innate immune system is responsible for carrying out antigen-independent defense mechanisms immediately following infection. It is the primary line of defense against pathogens and uses not only physical barriers against the pathogens but also the process of inflammation. The acquired immune system however is specific as to what it attacks (required antigens) and takes several days to actually kick in. Unlike the innate immune system, the adapted immune system has "memory" and consists of two subdivisions. One is the cell-mediated immunity (involves T-lymphocytes) and the other is the antibody mediated immunity (involves B-lymphocytes).
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