Special Forces are the Fiercest Line of Defense
If a foreign agent penetrates the non-specific barriers, there is a third line of defence available – the specific immune response. This “specific response” is called into action when nonspecific methods are not enough and the invaders become widespread.
The specific response involves the creation of “Antibodies”.
The specific immune response is a mechanism that is activated by the presence of pathogens and foreign substances. These are known as antigens. Even transplanted tissue from another person, or parts of pathogens like the flagella of a bacterium, are recognised as antigens.
The body’s immune system can determine which antigens are part of its own body structure. These antigens are known as self-antigens. These do not stimulate an immune response. (NOTE: When your body doesn’t effectively identify these invaders, or even worse, when it starts thinking that your own soldiers are invaders, that you are diagnosed with an “auto immune disorder.)
Non-self antigens opens in a new window are the foreign substances that do stimulate an immune response. The presence of a non-self antigen can trigger the production of specific proteins called antibodies opens in a new window. These are special proteins that are secreted by specific lymphocytes and have a specific molecular shape that matches the molecular shape of an antigen. The shape of the antibody gives it the ability to combine with and inactivate the antigen. When an antibody combines with an antigen the result is an antigen-antibody complex (see diagram).