THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND HIV VIRUS Definition: An immune system is a system of biological structures and processes within

an organism that protects it against diseases by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. Immunology • Immunology is a science that examines the structure and function of the immune system. It covers the study of all aspects of the immune system, having significant relevance to health and diseases. Further investigation in this field is expected to play a significant role in promotion of health and treatment of diseases. Complications of detection The body detects a wide variety of agents, from viruses to parasitic worms, and needs to distinguish them from the organism's own healthy cells and tissues in order to function properly. However, detection is further complicated as pathogens can evolve rapidly, and adapt to avoid the immune system and allow the pathogens to successfully infect their hosts. To counter this challenge • Organisms have evolved multiple mechanisms that recognize and neutralize pathogens. Even simple unicellular organisms such as bacteria possess enzyme systems that protect against viral infections. In eukaryotes such as plants and insects, these mechanisms include: • Antimicrobial peptides called defensins, • Phagocytosis • Complement system. Jawed vertebrates, including humans, have even more sophisticated defense mechanisms. Vertebrate immune system • The typical vertebrate immune system consists of many types of proteins, cells, organs, and tissues that interact in an elaborate and dynamic network. • The human immune system adapts over time to recognize specific pathogens more efficiently. This adaptation process is referred to as "adaptive immunity" or "acquired immunity" and creates 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.

The secondary response

Innate or Genetic Immunity: Immunity an organism is born with. Semen contains defensins and zinc to kill pathogens. physical barriers prevent pathogens such as bacteria and viruses from entering the organism. and biological barriers. The innate leukocytes include the phagocytes (macrophages. • If a pathogen breaches these barriers. – May be acquired naturally or artificially. and dendritic cells). • In simple terms. Cellular barriers to pathogens Leukocytes (white blood cells) act like independent. Innate cells are also important mediators in the activation of the adaptive immune system. gastric acid and proteases serve as powerful chemical defenses against ingested pathogens. • After the body gains immunity towards a certain pathogen. either by attacking larger pathogens through contact or by engulfing and then killing microorganisms. – May be due to lack of receptors or other molecules required for infection. The layered defences • The immune system protects organisms from infection with layered defenses of increasing specificity. • Chemical barriers protect against infection. including mechanical. – Not genetically determined. Surface barriers to pathogens • Several barriers protect organisms from infection. mast cells. • Development of immunity to measles in response to infection or vaccination. These cells identify and eliminate pathogens. basophils and natural killer cells. the immune response that is triggered is called the secondary response. Acquired Immunity: Immunity that an organism develops during lifetime. but non-specific response. . Vaginal secretions serve as a chemical barrier following menarche (beginning of menstrual function) when they become slightly acidic. when infection by that pathogen occurs again. neutrophils. – Genetically determined. single-celled organisms and are the second arm of the innate immune system. In the stomach. chemical. eosinophils. • Innate human immunity to canine distemper.• Primary response can take 2 days and up to 2 weeks to develop. the innate immune system provides an immediate. • Immunity of mice to poliovirus.

These cells have no cytotoxic activity and do not kill infected cells or clear pathogens directly. Conversely. Helper T cells regulate both the innate and adaptive immune responses and help determine which types of immune responses the body will mount in response to a particular pathogen. • There are two major subtypes of T cells: the killer T cell and the helper T cell. . self molecules are those components of an organism's body that can be distinguished from foreign substances by the immune system. Lymphocytes and adaptive response • The adaptive immune response is antigen-specific and requires the recognition of specific “non-self” antigens during a process called antigen presentation. Killer T cell are a sub-group of T cells that kill cells that are infected with viruses (and other pathogens). They instead control the immune response by directing other cells to perform these tasks. • B cells and T cells are the major types of lymphocytes and are derived from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Here. B cells are involved in the humoral immune response (that which involves antibodies). Several layers of passive protection are provided by the mother. the immune system adapts its response during an infection to improve its recognition of the pathogen. which is activated by the innate response. called lymphocytes. the adaptive immune system. • In immunology. or are otherwise damaged or dysfunctional. non-self molecules are those recognized as foreign molecules.• If pathogens successfully evade the innate response. • The cells of the adaptive immune system are special types of leukocytes. This improved response is then retained after the pathogen has been eliminated in the form of an immunological memory. • One class of non-self molecules are called antigens (short for antibody generators) and are defined as substances that bind to specific immune receptors and elicit an immune response. whereas T cells are involved in cellmediated immune response. vertebrates possess a third layer of protection. Passive memory Newborn infants have no prior exposure to microbes and are particularly vulnerable to infection. and allows the adaptive immune system to mount faster and stronger attacks each time this pathogen is encountered Antigens • Both innate and adaptive immunity depend on the ability of the immune system to distinguish between self and non-self molecules.

Breast milk. and  hypersensitivities (Includes Inflammatory diseases) Immunodeficiencies Immunodeficiencies occur when one or more of the components of the immune system are inactive resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections. while many bacterial vaccines are based on acellular components of micro-organisms. The ability of the immune system to respond to pathogens is diminished in both the young and the elderly. especially colostrum also contains antibodies that are transferred to the gut of the infant and protect against bacterial infections until the newborn can synthesize its own antibodies Active memory and immunization Long-term active memory is acquired following infection by activation of B and T cells. alcoholism. called IgG. so human babies have high levels of antibodies even at birth. . most bacterial vaccines are provided with additional adjuvants that activate the antigen-presenting cells of the innate immune system and maximize immunogenicity.  autoimmunity. Active immunity can also be generated artificially. including harmless toxin components. and fall into three broad categories:  immunodeficiencies. The principle behind vaccination (also called immunization) is to introduce an antigen from a pathogen in order to stimulate the immune system and develop specific immunity against that particular pathogen without causing disease associated with that organism Inducing Immunogenicity Most viral vaccines are based on live attenuated viruses.• • During pregnancy. with immune responses beginning to decline at around 50 years of age due to immunosenescence. However. is transported from mother to baby directly across the placenta. inducibility and adaptation. through vaccination. and drug use are common causes of poor immune function. with the same range of antigen specificities as their mother. a particular type of antibody. malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency in developing countries. Disorders of human immunity The immune system is a remarkably effective structure that incorporates specificity. obesity. Causes of immune dysfunction In developed countries. Failures of host defense do occur. Since many antigens derived from acellular vaccines do not strongly induce the adaptive response. however.

. fresh fruits. IgA antibody concentrations. the hepatitis virus and more recently.Genetic disease: Chronic granulomatous disease. the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus. is an example of an inherited. vegetables. We . HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus while AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.Deficiency of single nutrients such as iron. or congenital. Likewise. Viruses multiply by getting inside the cells of the body and use these cells as a “factory” in which to reproduce themselves. copper. There are currently no drugs that can eliminate virus in human body. 16.000 HIV viruses can fit on the head of a pin.Causes of reduced immune responses • Diets: .AIDS and some types of cancer cause acquired immunodeficiency. and B6. • Pharmaceuticals The Immune system and HIV Viruses were confirmed as human pathogens in 1901. the polio virus. selenium. Examples of other viruses that make people sick are the common cold virus.  Additionally. vitamins A. and folic acid (vitamin B9) also reduces immune responses. the loss of the thymus at an early age through genetic mutation or surgical removal results in severe immunodeficiency and a high susceptibility to infection. phagocyte function.” It can only be seen using a very specialized microscope called an electron microscope. . and cytokine production. zinc. • Immunodeficiencies can also be inherited or 'acquired'.Diets lacking sufficient protein are associated with impaired cell-mediated immunity. . controlling the functioning of the immune system. where phagocytes have a reduced ability to destroy pathogens. C. A virus is a very small organism. sometimes also called the T helper cells. with the discovery of the yellow fever virus by Walter Reed. fetal undernourishment can cause a lifelong impairment of the immune system. called a micro-organism or sometimes a “germ. A very important component of the immune system is a group of cells called CD4 cells. the measles virus. for example. Specific foods may also affect the immune system. and foods rich in certain fatty acids may foster a healthy immune system. E. immunodeficiency. These are specialized white blood cells. complement activity. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus.

Over time. Although there are many different viruses that can cause illnesses in humans. Kaposi’s sarcoma.” When a foreign organism enters the body. it attacks the immune system. the infections have an opportunity to multiply inside the person and make them sick.g. This is the reason for the terms “human IMMUNODEFICIENCY virus” and “acquired IMMUNE DEFICIENCY syndrome. As a result of the weak immune system. The immune system also produces antibodies (“weapons”) to combat the HIV virus. pneumonia or diarrhea or STIs. HIV differs from these in that it is the only virus we know of that specifically attacks the CD4 cells.” In very rare cases. These infections are called opportunistic infections. the body gradually loses its ability to fight off diseases caused by other microorganisms. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and cryptococcal meningitis. but HIV is by far the most common cause of immune deficiency in the world today. the defense force is not able to defend its territory properly. or the person is immunodeficient. a healthy immune system destroys the infection easily and the person does not become sick. When the HIV virus gets into the human body. Without the commanders. but they are not able to overcome the virus. The weakened immune system also makes the body vulnerable to certain kinds of cancers. Although these infections can get into the body of a healthy person. for example. People with HIV can contract the same infections as other people. the immune system gradually becomes increasingly weakened as a result of the HIV virus. e. but they get these common infections more often and more severely. Examples of opportunistic infections include candida (infection of the mouth and throat). cancer of the cervix.can think of these CD4 cells as immune system “army commanders. the CD4 cells give the command for the immune system to attack the invader. Up to 10 million viruses are produced daily. and so the person becomes vulnerable to many infections. When the immune system is weakened. In a person whose immune system is weak. and certain kinds of cancer treatments also weaken the immune system.. . The HIV virus gets inside the CD4 cells and multiplies there. We say the immune system becomes deficient or compromised. people are born with immune deficiencies. because they make use of the opportunity provided by a weak immune system. people with HIV are also vulnerable to certain infections that do not usually cause illness in people without HIV. These antibodies are usually what we measure when we do HIV tests. HIV gradually disables or destroys more and more of the CD4 cells.

in this case HIV/AIDS.Cell Plasma Cell Memory B-Cell Antibodies Deactivates Antigens .Cell Active B . The word “SYNDROME” refers to a group of symptoms and signs that can all be part of the same underlying medical condition.Because of the variety of infections and cancers that can affect a person with HIV. they can show a variety of different symptoms and signs. Summary of functioning of the immune system Antigen Macrophage Cellular immunity Helper T .Cell Antibody Immunity Active Cytotoxic T-Cell Kills Infected Cells Memory T.

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