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What Triggers an Antibody Response?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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The immune system is generally capable of identifying foreign substances inside the body. These foreign substances, also referred to as antigens, include the viruses, fungi, toxins, and bacteria capable of causing diseases. Once the immune system detects the presence of antigens, it triggers an antibody response. The release of antibodies then results in what is called an antigen-antibody reaction, which eventually leads to the destruction of the invading antigens. Thus, antibody response is one of the important functions of the immune system that helps protect individuals from contracting many diseases.

For instance, inhaling droplets of contaminated bodily fluid or coming in contact with contaminated body fluid of a sick person can often bring about infection. Microbes getting inside injured or broken skin may also bring about disease. Once the immune system detects the presence of microbes, it usually sends out white blood cells (WBCs) or lymphocytes to the area where infection occurs. These cells usually engulf the antigens, either neutralizing or killing them in the process.

Lymphocytes that produce antibodies are called B lymphocytes. During an antibody response, the B lymphocytes produce specific antibodies to also bind with the antigens. These antibodies are often capable of remembering the kind of antigen they are dealing with. Once this happens, the next time the same antigen attacks, a specific antibody response will readily occur, easily killing the antigens and preventing disease.

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The antibody response explains how immunizations work. Most pediatricians, recommend the regular immunizations of children to prevent them from contracting the most common childhood diseases. These include immunization against measles, chicken pox, and hepatitis B. Measles usually causes fever and rashes all over the body. Chicken pox also manifests with fever, as well as rashes and blisters, while hepatitis B affects the liver, causing abdominal pain and the yellow discoloration of the eyes and the skin.

Once a child has been immunized against chicken pox, he is not expected to contract the condition, even when he is exposed to someone with chicken pox later on. This is because during immunization, the child has developed an antibody response to the chicken pox vaccine. With this, he already has specific cells in his body capable of identifying and then fighting off the chicken pox virus during the next exposures.

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