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Micrograph shows a cell that looks like a fuzzy snowball.
This scanning electron micrograph shows a T lymphocyte. T and B cells are indistinguishable by light microscopy but can be differentiated experimentally by probing their surface receptors. (credit: modification of work by NCI; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Humoral immune response

As mentioned, an antigen is a molecule that stimulates a response in the immune system. Not every molecule is antigenic. B cells participate in a chemical response to antigens present in the body by producing specific antibodies that circulate throughout the body and bind with the antigen whenever it is encountered. This is known as the humoral immune response. As discussed, during maturation of B cells, a set of highly specific B cells are produced that have many antigen receptor molecules in their membrane ( [link] ).

Illustration shows a Y-shaped B cell receptor that projects up from the plasma membrane. The upper portion of both ends of the Y is the variable region that makes up the antigen binding site.
B cell receptors are embedded in the membranes of B cells and bind a variety of antigens through their variable regions.

Each B cell has only one kind of antigen receptor, which makes every B cell different. Once the B cells mature in the bone marrow, they migrate to lymph nodes or other lymphatic organs. When a B cell encounters the antigen that binds to its receptor, the antigen molecule is brought into the cell by endocytosis and reappears on the surface of the cell bound to an MHC class II molecule . When this process is complete, the B cell is sensitized. In most cases, the sensitized B cell must then encounter a specific kind of T cell, called a helper T cell, before it is activated. The helper T cell must already have been activated through an encounter with the antigen (discussed below).

The helper T cell binds to the antigen-MHC class II complex and is induced to release cytokines that induce the B cell to divide rapidly, which makes thousands of identical (clonal) cells. These daughter cells become either plasma cells or memory B cells. The memory B cells remain inactive at this point, until another later encounter with the antigen, caused by a reinfection by the same bacteria or virus, results in them dividing into a new population of plasma cells. The plasma cells, on the other hand, produce and secrete large quantities, up to 100 million molecules per hour, of antibody molecules. An antibody    , also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a protein that is produced by plasma cells after stimulation by an antigen. Antibodies are the agents of humoral immunity. Antibodies occur in the blood, in gastric and mucus secretions, and in breast milk. Antibodies in these bodily fluids can bind pathogens and mark them for destruction by phagocytes before they can infect cells.

These antibodies circulate in the blood stream and lymphatic system and bind with the antigen whenever it is encountered. The binding can fight infection in several ways. Antibodies can bind to viruses or bacteria and interfere with the chemical interactions required for them to infect or bind to other cells. The antibodies may create bridges between different particles containing antigenic sites clumping them all together and preventing their proper functioning. The antigen-antibody complex stimulates the complement system described previously, destroying the cell bearing the antigen. Phagocytic cells, such as those already described, are attracted by the antigen-antibody complexes, and phagocytosis is enhanced when the complexes are present. Finally, antibodies stimulate inflammation, and their presence in mucus and on the skin prevents pathogen attack.

Questions & Answers

What are eukaryotic cells?
Nwosueke Reply
where does the cell get energy for active transport processes?
A'Kaysion Reply
what is synapsis
Adepoju Reply
how many turns are required to make a molecule of sucrose in Calvin cycle
Amina Reply
why Calvin cycle occurs in stroma
Amina
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide?
Maryam Reply
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide? For the purpose of breaking down the food
dil
what is allele
uzoka Reply
process of protein synthesis
SANTOSH Reply
what is cell
Zulf Reply
what is cytoplasm
uzoka Reply
cytoplasm is fluid of cell.
Deepak
how many major types of Cloning
Saeed Reply
two
amir
two
Zulf
comparative anatomy of gymnosperms?
Meenakshi Reply
anatomy of gymnosperms
Meenakshi
how genes are regulated
Ainjue Reply
what is storage of glycogen
Student Reply
glycogen is a protein content
Najeem
how many times breathing a day normally does a person have
Vernalyn Reply
100
Aadil
on average 18000 times a day when resting.
gagan
the -10 and -35 regions of prokaryotic promoters are called consensus sequences because
Michelle Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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