Role Of The Immune System

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The immune system is known for its primary role in protecting the body from bacterial, parasitic, fungal and viral infections. It consists of organs and cells that play important and very specific roles in order to achieve adequate protection. The main components include:
• Bone Marrow Produces all the cells of the immune system through a process called hematopoiesis.
• Thymus Produces mature T cells through a process called thymic education.
• Spleen Its primary role is to filter the blood of antigens. This is done by the macrophages and dendritic cells that capture the antigens.
• Lymph Nodes Its primary role is to filter the bodily fluids of antigens, similar to the spleen, this is also done by the macrophages and dendritic cells
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• Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) A more effective killer cell that is similar to the T-cell. Mainly functions as effector cells that are capable of directly killing certain infections (herpes and cytomegalovirus).
• B Cells Produces antibodies. When antibodies are produced a signal travels around the body informing other cells and organs to start removing the foreign substance from the body.
• Granulocytes/ Polymorphonuclear (PMN) Leukocytes A group of white blood cells responsible for removing bacteria and parasites from the body using powerful enzymes.
• Macrophages Its primary job is to pick up antigens and present them to T and B cells which kick starts the immune response.
• Dendritic Cells These cells pick up antigens more efficiently than macrophages. When antigens are captured they take the antigen to the lymphoid organs where an immune response is initiated.
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This form of infection is capable of causing significant illness and death in defective immune systems. Defects in neutrophil function and neutropenia can lead to candida, aspergillus and mucoraceae. Altered T-cell mononuclear phagocyte function can lead to C. neoformans, histoplasma and coccidioides. One of the most notorious fungal infections is aspergillosis with a mortality rate of 55-92% (Silva, 2010). It is challenging to diagnose due to its difficulty to isolate, non-specific clinical features and its difficult presence to interpret. “Definitive diagnosis is made by histopathological demonstration of the fungus in tissue or a positive culture from a sterile body site,” (Armstrong & Hawkins, 1984). Although the ability to treat this infection is difficult, amphotericin B with or without 5FC is the most common form of treatment that is recommended in a dose of 1.5 to 3 g in a six to twelve week period. Doses and duration of medication will vary depending on the severity of the infection. Many studies are being done to find a more accurate and effective treatment for fungal infections at this

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