Synonyms : Non-self molecules, Immunogen, foreign bodies T.A. Premchandani, NMIMS, SPTM, Shirpur

• Antigens are simple or complex foreign substances, which may be organic, inorganic or biological agents and they
• Enhances • Provokes • Elicits

• the immune response when they enters in the body pareneterally.

• The word Parenteral (par- beyond) and (Enteron git) is used in definition because orally administered antigens are usually denatured by digestive enzymes and their antigenicity is destroyed. • When given parenterally it do not undergo any inactivation and can initiate antibody production.

• When a foreign bodies or substances enter the system or body, it mediates
• Immediate or • Delayed type of immune response.

• Various events of defense mechanism will be taking place to remove the antigen. • Humoral and cell mediated immunity will taken place at the last.


Classification of antigen
• Complete antigens :
• When these antigens enters the body evokes the immune response without any assistant or carrier molecule .They possess both qualities
• Immunogenicity and • Antigenicity.

• Incomplete antigens or Haptens :
• These are the foreign substance they require carrier molecule to act as a complete antigen. • Such antigens are called as incomplete antigens or Haptens.


• Haptens are low molecular weight compounds which are having antigenic property but lacks immunogenic property. • The immunogenic property or production of antibody is governed by the carrier molecule. • The carrier molecule is a non-antigenic component and helps in provoking the immune response.


• A hapten is equipped with chemically reactive side chains such as
• • • • Azide, Sulphonates, Arsinate and Carboxyate etc.

• Antibodies are also raised against these groups also. • Normally the adjuvant are used as a carrier compound for haptens and making it as complete antigens.

• It is a chemical, which when administered with the antigens, enhances or provokes the immunity. • Adjuvants are chemical suspension or liquid suspension in which antigen or foreign proteins are dissolved. • Since most of the antigens are proteineous in nature, they exhibit a maximum antigenicity if injected simultaneously with the suitable adjuvants.

• The commonly used adjuvants are:
• Freund’s complete adjuvants with lipid suspension with mycobacterium in it. • Freud’s incomplete adjuvants are lipid suspension or alum suspension without any mycobacterium particles.

• These adjuvants are enhances the activation of B and T lymphocytes and macrophages. • Hence it has tremendous importance in the vaccine production and injection.

Adjuvants can react in Several Ways: 1. Alter the distribution and persistence of antigen within the positive host. 2. Stimulate lymphocytes production nonspecifically. 3. Activate macrophages. 4. Alter traffic of circulating lymphocytes.

Types of antigens
• Exogenous antigens :
• These antigens enters the body or system and start circulating in the body fluids and trapped by the APCs (Antigen processing cells such as macrophages, dendritic cells etc.)

• The uptakes of these exogenous antigens by APCs are mainly mediated by the phagocytosis.
• Ex: bacteria, viruses, Fungi etc.

Types of antigens
• Endogenous antigens :
• These are body’s own cells or sub fragments or compounds or the antigenic products that are produced.

• These are further classified into a. Autoantigens : These are synthesized by the body. Ex: nucleoproteins, nucleic acids etc. b. Alloantigens : Same set of molecules with the genetic variation. Ex: blood group antigens. HLA (Histocompatibility Leukocyte antigens) etc. • The endogenous antigens are processed by the macrophages which are later accepted by the cytotoxic T – cells.

Chemical Nature of Immunogens/ Antigens
A. Proteins -The vast majority of immunogens are proteins. These may be pure proteins or they may be glycoproteins or lipoproteins.
• In general, proteins are usually very good immunogens

B. Polysaccharides –
• Pure polysaccharides and lipopolysaccharides are good immunogens.

Chemical Nature of Immunogens/ Antigens
C. Nucleic Acids - Nucleic acids are usually poorly immunogenic. However, they may become immunogenic when single stranded or when complexed with proteins. D. Lipids - In general lipids are nonimmunogenic, although they may be haptens.

Property of antigens/ Factors Influencing Immunogenicity
1. Molecular mass: Smaller molecules does not provoke immune system.
• The antigens should possess an optimum molecular mass or large molecule which then binds with the receptors and provoke the immune response. • The molecular weight should be between 1000 to 10,000.

2. Antigenic determinant size: Antigenic determinants or epitopes are the regions of antigen which specifically binds with the antibody molecule. 15

Property of antigens/ Factors Influencing Immunogenicity
3.Foreignness - The immune system normally discriminates between self and non-self components such that only foreign molecules are immunogenic. 4. Chemical Composition - In general, the more complex the substance is chemically the more immunogenic it will be. 5. Physical form - In general particulate antigens are more immunogenic than soluble ones and denatured antigens more immunogenic than the native form.

Property of antigens/ Factors Influencing Immunogenicity
6. Genetic Factors - Some substances are immunogenic in one species but not in another. Similarly, some substances are immunogenic in one individual but not in others (i.e. responders and nonresponders). • The species or individuals may lack or have altered genes that code for the receptors for antigen on B cells and T cells • They may not have the appropriate genes needed for the APC to present antigen to the helper T cells.

7. Age - Age can also influence immunogenicity. Usually the very young and the very old have a diminished ability to elicit and immune response in response to an immunogen.


• When the immune system encounters a conventional T-dependent antigen, only a small fraction (2-3%) of the T cell population is able to recognize the antigen and become activated (monoclonal/ oligoclonal response). • However, there are some antigens which polyclonally activate a large fraction of the T cells (up to 25%). These antigens are called as “superantigens.”

• Examples of superantigens include:
• Staphylococcal enterotoxins (food poisoning), • Staphylococcal shock toxin (toxic shock syndrome), Staphylococcal exfoliating toxins (scalded skin syndrome) Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins (shock).

• The diseases associated with exposure to superantigens are, in part, due to
Hyper activation of the immune system and subsequent release of biologically active cytokines by activated T- cells.