Glossary

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A

adaptive immune system
See immune system

allergen
Usually harmless substances such as food, pollen, house dust or drugs, which cause allergic reactions due to a hypersensitive immune system.

allergy
Overreaction of the immune system to usually harmless substances (see allergen). Symptoms include eye inflammation, skin rash, and asthma. In severe cases allergy can result in life-threatening anaphylactic shocks.

antibody
Proteins that specifically bind to an antigen. Antibodies are secreted by specialized cells of the immune system. They neutralize potential pathogens and activate the immune system.

antigen
Name originates from “generate antibodies”. Molecules of any structure “foreign” to the host. They induce antibody production.

antigen presenting cell (APC)
Cells that present peptides derived from antigens to immune cells with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Although every cell of a body is able to present MHC-bound peptides, some specialized cells stimulate immune cells more effectively than others.

APC
See antigen presenting cell

apoptosis
Programed cell death. In contrast to spontaneous cell death, apoptosis does not damage surrounding tissue.

autoimmunity
An immune response to the body’s own cells. It is induced because the immune system detects self antigens.