The Immune System: Our Great Protector
Our Immune System guards us against Viruses, bacteria, fungi, foreign proteins and abnormal cancer cells. It is a sophisticated interplay of many different kinds of immune cells. This article does not allow me to go into much detail about the intricate workings of the immune system, but I still believe that you must know about the basic players.
The Different players in our immune system Macrophages (or phagocytes) are the pac-man like white cells that are the first line of defense. They can quickly attack any foreign invader (virus, bacteria) and actually gobble it up. But sometimes macrophages are not sure if they have attached themselves to a foreign invader or not. They definitely do not want to destroy something that is part of the body. This is when they call for help from T-helper cells.
T-Helper Cells: They are from a group of white cells called the lymphocytes. A T-helper cell comes along and attaches itself to the macrophage and tries to help it determine if the particle the macrophage has in its grasp is friend or foe. If the T-Helper cells determine that it is an enemy, it will secrete hormones called cytokines (they stimulate the inflammatory reaction), which literally signed the immune system to kick itself to high gear. This stimulates the B-cells into action and attracts more macrophages and T-Helper cells to come to the rescue.
B-cells: They have the ability to shoot down the intruder with enzymes that destroy it by creating oxidative stress. Some of the B-Cells will return to the lymph nodes to create antibodies against these intruders. If this intruder ever shows up again, our immune system is ready for it because of these antibodies.
Natural Killer Cells: They can destroy anything in their path. They flood infected cells with toxins and destructive enzymes, which effectively destroys all foreign invaders or cells that are growing abnormally, such as cancer cells.
T-Suppressor Cells: They are the riot police that come along after the foreign invader has been destroyed and tries to calm down this tremendous immune response. They are critical for the control of collateral damage. If this highly reactive response goes unchecked, tremendous damage to the surrounding normal tissues could occur. This is what makes the inflammatory response so dangerous. Though it is absolutely necessary to control potential infection intruders, if the inflammatory response gets out of control, it can cause great harms.