Health

Interesting Facts About the Immune System

The Ancient Immune System from a Starfish Point of View There are two primary and vital aspects of our immune system – adaptive immunity and innate… Trista - November 14, 2019
The human immune system does not have the same abilities as a starfish. Credit: Pixabay

The Ancient Immune System from a Starfish Point of View

There are two primary and vital aspects of our immune system – adaptive immunity and innate immunity. The innate immune system includes proteins and cells that are always active to combat microorganisms as soon as they detect an infection. The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, gets called to act when the pathogens circumvent the innate defenders.

Invertebrates typically lack the adaptive immunity that is possessed by vertebrates. However, in the 19th century Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian biologist, discovered the presence of the innate immune system in invertebrates. He pierced a starfish larva using a rose thorn. The very next day, he found tons of tiny cells try to cover the thorn. Since its evolution somewhat 5000 years ago, starfish have remained virtually unchanged. This was long before vertebrates where discover, meaning the innate immune system has strong ancient roots.

White blood cells pack a lot of power when fighting against diseases. Credit: Pixabay

The Small Percentage of White Blood Cells

The immune system works round the clock to fight off microbes and protect you from diseases. It is natural for people to accept that the main soldier, the white blood cells, will account for a majority of the blood.

However, the reality is not the same. Blood cells cover only one percent of the cells in blood worth five liters in a healthy adult’s body. But there are adequate white blood cells to protect you from infection. In every microliter of blood, there are between 5,000 and 10,000 white blood cells.

Being clean is good, but you still need some exposure to germs. Credit: Pixabay

The Hazard of Being Too Clean

Cleaning as well as disinfecting your surroundings might seem like an effective way to infection. However, this is a case where too much good can turn into a bad thing. When you clean your environment too much, you tend to minimize the foreign pathogens that you reduce the development of the immune system.

It is a popular notion in the case of young children which they are not at all exposed to harmful microbes. Subsequently, their bodies fail to develop adequate antibodies to combat the harmful microbes. If someone has a cold, keep your hands clean around them and avoid getting in direct contact, but don’t obsess for cleaning. In your quest to prevent foreign pathogens, you don’t want to minimize the contact with good bacteria present in the environment.

Your immune system is very strong in order to fight off allergies. Credit: Pixabay

Allergies Might Actually be a Good Sign

When you experience an allergic reaction, it is your immune system reacting to harmless allergens that the system detects it as a threat. From the runny nose to fainting and breaking out in hives, there are various symptoms of an allergic reaction. These are basically the result of misguided attacks from the body.

Studies reveal that allergies may be the sign of a robust immune system that protects your body against the toxins of the environment. As mentioned above, your immune system reacts differently to fight off various pathogens.

Who figured out the germ disease theory? Credit: Pixabay

The Rivalry Between the Two Scientists

Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch are the two scientists who discovered the primary functions of the immune system. You would think that both scientists work together and view their works as complementary, but that in reality, they were both rivals. Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist, was well-reckoned for his experiments illustrating the mechanisms of vaccines through weakened microbes.

Koch, on the other hand, was a German physician who establishes four conditions in which pathogenic bacteria can infect the hosts and further used them to determine the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium that was responsible for tuberculosis. While both the scientists helped establish the germ disease theory, the feud between them was exasperated by nationalism, criticism of each other’s work, language barrier, and other factors.

The immune system is not only strong, but amazing. Credit: Pixabay

The Strongest Link in the Chain

Yes, the white blood cells take the award again. These cells are segmented into two types – lymphocytes that develop antigens for particular pathogens and remove them out of the body and phagocytes that ingest hazardous bacteria.

Primarily, white blood cells are produced in bone marrow, but they are also present in lymph nodes, thymus, and spleen. Inside the lymph nodes that are present in your entire body but noticeable in the throat, armpit, and groin, the white blood cells transfer through the tubules that appear like a vein to remove out the foreign invaders.

Your spleen is pretty powerful. Credit: Pixabay

The Prominence of the Spleen

The spleen is a vital organ that resides between the stomach and diaphragm. While you can survive without the spleen, it is essential for your immune system’s function. According to a reckoned doctor Adriana Medina whose expertise lies in hematology and oncology, the spleen basically considered as a large lymph node that generates new white blood cells and removes the old and damaged blood cells from the body.

Moreover, the spleen is a place in which immune cells congregate. Since the immune cells are spread throughout your body, eventually, these cells would need to communicate with one another. So the communication occurs in the spleen as well as lymph nodes.

The immune system is always working to combat infection and disease. Credit: Pixabay

Immune Cells in the Tissues

Even though the immune cells gather up in the lymph nodes, immune cells are present in each tissue where it circulates, continuously roving for an attack sign. These cells are also found in the blood.

The reason they are so widespread is that there are a thousand kinds of pathogens that infect the human body. In order to eliminate different types of threats, there are just as many, if not more, immune cells.

Evolution and the immune system. Credit: Pixabay

Amiability Can be Associated with Your Immune System

From the perspective of evolution, the amiability of humans might have less to do with their brand and more associated with the immune system’s exposure to pathogens. At the University of Virginia School of Medicine, researchers have come up with a theory that interferon-gamma (IG), a component that assists the immune system combat invaders, was associated with social behavior, which is one of the primary ways one gets in contact with pathogens.

When tested the theory in mice, the researchers found that IG acted as a brake to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, primarily putting halting aberrant hyperactivity that results in adverse changes in your social behavior. Furthermore, when they blocked the IG molecule, the prefrontal cortex of mice became quite hyperactive, leading to less sociability. When the function was restored, the mice’s brains began to function normally, so did their social behavior.

The body is made up of tons of unique organs with specific functions. Credit: Pixabay

The Home to Unusual Organs

The appendix has a bad reputation for the vestigial organ that does not do anything but creates a need for immediate surgery. However, the appendix might assist in keeping your gut in good shape.

According to Gabrielle Belz, a reckoned professor of molecular immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, reveals that the appendix abodes symbiotic bacteria that are vital for the overall health of your gut especially post-infection when the good microbes have been washed off. Innate lymphoid cells, specialized immune cells present in the appendix, may assist in the generation of healthy bacteria and stimulate the recovery process of the gut.

How does the immune system fight against cancer? Credit: Pixabay

The Upcoming Cure to Treat Cancer

Hyperactive pediatric tumors are complex to treat because of the toxicity associated with chemotherapy. However, some scientists are working with developing effective treatments that do not have harmful side effects. Researchers at Standford worked on a study around a rather new molecule called CD47, a protein expressed on the cell’s surface and how the molecule interacts with the macrophages, white blood cells that eliminate the abnormal cells. The lead study author and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the university said that the macrophages were considered similar to the Pac-Man.

CD47 transfers the macrophages a “do not harm me” signals, and the cancer cells trick the immune system into not destroy them by producing a high amount of CD47. When the researchers blocked the messages on the cancer cells, the macrophages identified the cancer cells and killed them without any toxic side effects. This treatment successful shrank five of the most common pediatric tumors without the harmful implications of chemotherapy.

Are you familiar with immunotherapy? Credit: Pixabay

The Evolution of Immunotherapy

Over the past few years, essential research in the immunology landscape has been centered on developing effective cancer cure through immunotherapy. The treatment prepares the healthy cells of the patient to attack the cancer cells.

This technique could be the top of the iceberg and can be used to treat many severe health conditions. It is only a matter of gaining a better understanding of what immunotherapy and cancer are depicting. This can provide the research a direction, and they can manipulate the responses and obtain better outcomes for not just cancer but other diseases as well.

Would you try to treat your Type 1 Diabetes with a seaweed cell material? Credit: Pixabay

Treating Type 1 Diabetes

In Type 1 diabetes, the body tends to attack its own pancreatic cells, disrupting its capability to produce insulin against the glucose. A researcher at MIT in 2016 collaborated with a Children’s hospital in Boston and designed a new material that enabled them to encapsulate and transplant healthy pancreatic islet cells into diabetic mice without impacting the immune response.

Developed using seaweed, the substance is gentle enough to protect the body from reacting to it and porous to enable the islet cells to be positioned in the mice’s abdomen where they restore the pancreatic abilities. This experiment has a strong potential to provide Type1 diabetes people with a new and healthy pancreas that is shielded from the immune system. This would ensure that their blood sugar level stays in check without having to rely on medications.

The diet you have will affect your immune system response. Credit: Pixabay

Food and the Immune System

The way your immune system functions can be impacted by what you eat. For instance, when you suffer from a food allergy, there is a presence of a lot of undesirable immune responses to particular nutrients. However, there are specific growing indications that food also has substances that can have a positive impact on the functioning of your immune system.

The project, known as IMMUNO-ARRAY, focused on determining which substances have better have positive effects. Proper nutrition is vital to building a robust immune system that can effectively protect you against various health disorders. An adequate amount of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and more are some nutrients essential for your immune system.

It is essential to be happy for your mind, body, and soul. Credit: Pixabay

Healthy Relationships and the Immune System

More than those fluttery butterflies feeling, love can actually be quite useful for your immune system. And when that happens, it directly boosts your physical as well as mental health. It is no coincidence that caring and loving relationships make you feel better, mentally and physically.

Loving experiences have a positive impact on the microbiome and immune system in multiple ways. When you are aware that you are not alone, it can significantly reduce the stress level and help you be more relaxed. Such a state of mind supports the microbiome by making it difficult for bacteria to enter your gut.

A good laugh can make you feel better. Credit: Pixabay

Laughter is Medicine for the Immune System

In order to understand the connection between laughter and the immune system, you must be aware of the lymphatic system. It is basically the backbone of the immune system that continually collects waste from all parts of the body deposited in the tissues through blood capillaries. The system then cleans the fluid and transfers it back into the circulating blood at your neck.

Contrary to our circulatory system that has a heart that pumps the blood in an ongoing circle throughout the body, the Lymphatic system is a simple transport system devoid of the pump. Studies suggest that laughter facilitates diaphragmatic breathing, which is essential to create intense pressure inside the thoracic duct. During such time, the lymphatic fluid moves to the area with lesser pressure, transferring the lymph through the vessels and increasing the flow and speed.

A little exercise goes a long way for your immune system. Credit: Pixabay

Exercise and the Immune System

Regular physical activity helps in reducing the chances of contracting heart diseases. Furthermore, it also helps in keeping your bones strong and healthy. According to studies, exercises may help in flushing out the bacteria via airways and lungs. Such actions reduce the chance of dealing with illnesses.

Furthermore, exercises stimulate changes in white blood cells and antibodies and allow them to circulate more rapidly. This activity enables them to detect the pathogens earlier and fight it off quickly.

The stomach is just one organ within your abdominal region. Credit: Pixabay

A Majority of the Immune System is Located in the Gut

Your immune system is present mainly within the lymphatic system. It is a meshy network of vessels as well as glands found throughout your body. There are also congregates in and around the gut. The food passes through the digestive system that carries microbes, toxins, and allergens into your body, so it makes sense that for the immune system to be present in the gut.

Inside the stomach, the immune system regularly works to detect those components and organisms that enter your body so that it can properly absorb the nutrients. If you continuously consume food that your immune system identifies as harmful, you risk throwing it out of balance and becoming more prone to illnesses.

Do you have swelling or redness? Credit: Pixabay

Inflammation is the First Sign

When your immune system gets in contact with a foreign invader, the first reactor is the cells and biological compounds associated with the inflammation process. It is a fast and somewhat messy signal that destroys many things in its way.

While inflammation is somewhat life-saving, when it becomes chronic, it can damage the tissues and make it easier for you to contract illness of disease. A healthy immune system response includes quick inflammation that also resolves quite quickly.

If you do not receive enough natural sunlight, try more vitamin D. Credit: Pixabay

Vitamin D is Imperative

Vitamin D works beyond strengthening your bone; it plays many essential roles in the body. One of the primary functions associated with vitamin D is that it helps balance immunity. Therefore, it is crucial to take the necessary amount of vitamin D daily to maintain an adequate level. If you often get sick, then your vitamin D level might be lower, and it is worth getting it checked.

The primary function of the immune system to keep harmful germs out of the body by destroying them. Your immune system is formed of various networks of cells and organs that work in unison to protect you from illness.

Evidently, a healthy immune system is imperative for your survival. You must make the right efforts to ensure that you have a robust immune system. Furthermore, being well aware of its functioning can help you stay knowledgeable. Above were some important and interesting facts about the immune system that will help you understand your health and well-being a little better.

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