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Level 17

Immune system


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Lymphatics
Vessels which carry lymph, functioning complementary to the cardiovascular system.
Lymph capillaries
Tiny valved vessels which collect the interstitial fluid not reabsorbed into the cardiovascular system (~10%)
Lymph
The fluid within the lymph system
Lymph nodes
Small organs clustered throughout the lymph system (and along parts of the digestive tract) responsible for filtering lymph and producing lymphocytes.
Spleen
Left hypochondriac organ of the lymph system involved in lymphocyte production and removing and recycling old erythrocytes.
Cisterna chyli
A large abdominal lymphatic which supplies the thoracic duct.
Thoracic duct
Lymphatic which returns lymph from most of the body to the left jugular vein.
Right thoracic duct
Lymphatic which returns lymph from parts of the upper body to the right jugular vein.
Thymus
Thoracic lymph organ, responsible for the maturation of T-cell lymphocytes
Tonsils
Lymph organs at the posterior of the oral and nasal cavities, giving protection against microbial invasion.
Lacteals
Special vessels which absorb fatty acids within the villi of the small intestine for transport through the lymph system.
Antibody-mediated immunity
Defence against pathogens involving antibodies.
Antigens
Particles on the surface of a pathogen, typically proteins or carbohydrates, used to identify the pathogen in antibody-mediated immunity.
B lymphocytes
Lymphocytes secreted in 'naive' form in the bone marrow, central to antibody-mediated immunity.
Memory B cells
Lymphocytes derived from naive B cells containing a reservoir of clones of a recognised antigen, able to persist for years.
Plasma cells
Lymphocytes derived from naive B cells which secrete large volumes of antibodies.
Antibodies
Molecules produced by plasma cells which bind to antigens on the surface of pathogens in order to identify them
Cell-mediated immunity
Defence against pathogens not involving antibodies but CD8 (cytotoxic) T lymphocytes
Major histocompatibility complex
Cell surface protein which identifies a cell as 'self' in cell-mediated immunity, coded by a large and highly variable set of genes.
Macrophage
A long-lived phagocytic cell which exists within tissue and presents antigenic material to T lymphocytes. Important in chronic inflammation
Helper T-cell
Lymphocyte which, when activated by the presentation of antigens, release cytokines which activate B cells and macrophages
Memory T-cell
Long-lived antigen-specific lymphocyte which retains the ability to launch an immune response.
Cytotoxic T-cell
Lymphocyte which destroys virally infected cells and tumour cells (implicated in transplant rejection)
Granulocytes
Class of short-lived phagocytic cells comprising neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils
Neutrophil
Most abundant granulocyte: important in acute inflammation, important in bacterial infection
Eosinophils
Granulocytic cell involved in the immune response to parasites - also important in allergy
IgM
Antibody class secreted early in infection. Forms a pentamer to agglutinate pathogens and toxins and activates complement
IgG
The most important antibody class following class switching from IgM. Agglutinates particles, activates complement and opsonises (coats) antigenic particles
IgA
Antibody class secreted by mucosa (eg. in the gut). Forms a dimer to agglutinate antigenic particles.
IgE
Antibody class which binds strongly to mast cells, causing degranulation of inflammatory factors upon helminth or allergen exposure
Complement
A group of interacting glycoproteins in the blood which act to trigger immune processes upon infection (lymphocyte chemotaxis, mast cell activation, lysis and opsonisation)