Function of Antibodies – Humoral Immunity

by Peter Delves, PhD

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    Let’s now turn to what antibodies actually do. We’ve looked a little bit at their structure, but how do they actually function to protect us from all the different nasty pathogens that we’re encountering all the time - bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites. Well antibody can actually function totally alone, just work completely by itself to combat pathogenic situations. So for example, it can bind to bacterial toxins and neutralize those toxins. Stop those toxins poisoning our cells. It can block viruses binding to their cellular receptors. In order to enter a cell, a virus has to bind to the surface of one of our cells. If an antibody gets in the way, the virus can’t bind. Or antibodies can block adherence of bacteria to mucosal surfaces. And secretory IgA is really good at doing that. So these are three examples of antibody not needing to draw on help from other parts of the immune system. They can do all this stuff completely on their own. But most times, antibody acts as a bridge between the antigen and other components of the immune system. So let us look at the ways in which this occurs. So looking at the variety of ways in which antibodies recruit other components of the immune response, one important way is using red blood cells to facilitate the clearance of immune complexes. We tend to think of red blood cells as transporting oxygen around the body and really perhaps not much to do with the immune response. But like most cells in the body, red blood cells have more than one function. And they have on their cell surface, complement receptors. And this means they can pick up immune complexes of antigen and antibody and complement. And they bind those complexes and take the immune complexes...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Function of Antibodies – Humoral Immunity by Peter Delves, PhD is from the course Humoral Immunity and Cell-Mediated Immunity. It contains the following chapters:

    • The Function of Antibodies
    • Summary of Antibody Function

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. IgG
    2. IgM
    3. IgD
    4. IgA
    5. IgE
    1. Antibodies can lyse antigenic cells
    2. Antibodies neutralize bacterial toxins
    3. Antibodies can block viral binding
    4. Antibodies can block viral cellular receptors
    5. Antibodies can block bacterial adherence to mucosal surfaces
    1. RBCs can bind to IgG and IgM to clear these immune complexes by transporting them to the liver, the spleen, etc.
    2. RBCs phagocytose the immune complex formed by IgG and an antigenic molecule
    3. RBCs work in conjunction with ADCC to destroy antigenic cells
    4. RBCs mediate degranulation of mast cells
    5. RBCs bind to IgG and IgM and help to generate the membrane attack complex
    1. IgG
    2. IgM
    3. IgA
    4. IgE
    5. IgD

    Author of lecture Function of Antibodies – Humoral Immunity

     Peter Delves, PhD

    Peter Delves, PhD

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