The immune system functions as an integrated network of unique organs, specialized cells and bodily fluids.
This is Dr. Jim for Be Healthy! Be Happy! College of Immune Health – Immune Health 101: An Introduction to immune system function.
The immune system functions as an integrated network of organs, specialized cells and unique bodily fluids. These components work in concert to defend, destroy and render germs and tumor cells ineffective. At the end of the day, it’s the immune system that keeps us healthy by preventing the devastating consequences that could occur should foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, parasites, molds, allergens and cancer cells be allowed to take over and overwhelm us.
At the mile-high view, immune system function is divided into innate and acquired immunity.
The components of innate immunity include the skin and mucous membranes, protective intestinal bacteria, specialized cells that engulf and destroy germs and the so called natural killer cells, which secrete chemicals toxic to invading pathogens. Innate immunity is immediate – non-specifically attacking any and all foreign invaders.
Innate immune function has no memory.
Unlike innate immunity, acquired immune function responds from the memory of prior infections by reacting immediately to subsequent episodic invasions from the same or similar germs. Components of acquired immunity include T and B lymphocytes, anti-bodies and complement proteins, all which I will discuss in future College of Immune Health 101 segments.
Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Online [available at]: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic