Sunday, February 27, 2011

Malfunction of the Immune System

Experts suspect that disorders of the immune system may be involved in many puzzling medical problems. At times, the body's defense mechanisms seem to act against the body's own best interests.

In response to dust, pollen, bee or wasp venom, and certain other substances, some people produce antibodies in such large quantities that they are harmful. The overabundant antibodies attach themselves to a type of cell called mast cells that are located in certain body tissues. The mast cells can release toxins that cause the individual to cough, produce amounts of mucus and suffer other allergic symptoms.

Diseases of The Connective Tissue
A number of still mysterious diseases center around the various kinds of connective tissue in our bodies, such as the cartilage that holds our joints together. In the diseases known as lupus, the immune system somehow attacks the body's own connective tissue. In rheumatic arthritis, certain antibodies actually behave like antigens. They cause the body to put other antibodies, which lock onto them and cause inflammation in the joints.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
In recent years, there has been an increase in a puzzling condition known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). In this syndrome, the immune system grows weak, leaving the individual vulnerable to viruses, bacteria and other problems, including an extremely dangerous form of pneumonia (Pneumocytis carinii) and a rare skin cancer.

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