Dumaguing: How’s your immunity?

IMMUNITY is the scientific study of the immune system and the different immune responses as well as defense mechanisms against disease-causing agents, with experts in this specialty called immunologists.

According to currently accepted doctrine, the primary functions of the immune system are to differentiate between self- bodily items that are within the body of the person- and non self or anything foreign, with the inherent ability and strength to destroy that which is non-self.

Humoral immunity always involves the production of antibodies in response to antigens which are molecules that are considered foreign or non self when introduced into the body, thus are capable of stimulating the production of antibodies, which are proteins which are capable of neutralizing and fighting the specific antigen, in other words, there is a very high level of specificity in terms of antigen-antibody interaction, thus antibody X responds only to antigen A, while antibody Y reacts only to antigen B. In short, humoral immunity is also called antibody-mediated immunity.

Cell-mediated immunity includes many cell types found inside the body, mostly in the blood like macrophages- big cells capable of eating the enemy-, different types of T lymphocytes like killer cells, cytotoxic cells- , and granulocytes which include neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils.

Acquired immunity that results from the active production or receipt of protective antibodies during one’s lifetime is called acquired immunity.

The antibodies we produce after getting sick is called natural active acquire immunity; natural because getting sick is a common experience of every human being, active because it is our own body that produces the antibody whereas vaccination results to artificial active acquired immunity.

Vaccines are made of weakened or attenuated portions or parts of micro-organisms which when ingested or injected into a person, would be considered as foreign or non self, thus the immune system mounts an aggressive strong response against the microbe, but not strong enough to cause a full-blown disease caused by the microbe from where the vaccine was sourced.

Immunity passed on from one person –pregnant woman- to her growing fetus is a form of artificial passive acquired immunity. While the growing fetus is still inside the womb of the mother, antibodies from the mother pass thru the placenta, umbilical cord blood vessels to the fetal circulation.

The word “passive” refers to the fetus who is at the receiving end of the antibodies. Artificial passive acquired immunity is best exemplified by preformed gamma globulins, or or immunoglobulin’s contained in antisera to help boost the natural immunity of persons, whose immune system may be compromised or those patients taking immunosuppressive drugs as part of their medical management.

Needless to say, a balanced diet, exercise, sound nutrition, sleep, healthy habits, strong emotional support, positive outlook lf life all together translate clinically into a rock-solid impregnable immune system. And by the way, a lil prayer goes a long long way!
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