There is an amazing protection mechanism inside the human body called the immune system. This system is designed to defend the body against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites invading it.
In scientific terms, an immune system is defined as a collection of biological processes within an organism that protect against disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumour cells.
The immune system detects a wide variety of invading agents and has the potential to differentiate them from the organism's own healthy cells and tissues, which inturn is important for the proper functioning of the body.
Human beings have an extremely sophisticated defense mechanism. The human immune system consists of many types of proteins, cells, organs, and tissues that interact in an elaborate and dynamic network. Over a period of time, the human immune system adapts to recognise specific pathogens more efficiently. This adaptation process is called adaptive or acquired immunity. This process is further known to create an immunological memory. Immunological memory created from a primary response to a specific pathogen, provides an enhanced response to secondary encounters with that same, specific pathogen. It is this process of acquired immunity that forms the basis of vaccination.
Immunology incorporates the study of all aspects of the immune system which has significant relevance to human health and diseases. Immunodeficiency diseases are caused due to disorders in the immune system. These occur when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections. There are different categories of immunodeficiency diseases. Severe combined immunodeficiency is a consequence of a genetic disease. Certain immunodeficiencies are produced by pharmaceuticals, whereas the much known acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS is a result of an infection with the retrovirus HIV. Contrary to these categories are the autoimmune diseases that result from a hyperactive immune system attacking normal tissues as if they were foreign organisms.
The immune system mainly works with the circulatory system because the blood vessels form the main mode of transport for immune cells. It is the circulatory system that allows immune cells to travel throughout the body and investigate the infections. Although the immune system is not involved in any other system, its effects can be witnessed in others in forms of various diseases and infections. Most infections involve immune reactions that occur in the tissues of the digestive tract. However, autoimmune diseases are known to occur in almost every organ. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system, wherein the immune system attacks the myelin sheath of neurons leading to impaired ability to conduct nerve impulses resulting in paralysis and disco-ordination. In rheumatoid arthritis, which is a disorder of the skeletal system, the immune system strikes the synovial membranes that lubricate joints causing inflammation at the joints. An autoimmune disease of the muscular system is myasthenia gravis, in which the immune system attacks the synapse between motor neurons and muscles, impairing the ability to tell muscles when or when not to contract resulting in muscle weakness and spasms. When the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, it results in high blood glucose due to insulin deficiency. This leads to type I diabetes, which is a disease of the endocrine system. The celiac's disease of the digestive system is caused when the immune system strikes gluten in the intestines leading to an over reactive response that damages the neighboring tissue. Thus, even though the immune system is not directly involved in any other body system, its effects are certainly far reaching.
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