Antigen

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The word antigen comes from "antibody generator" [1]. It is a foreign molecule that can be external from the environment, for example, bacteria, or internally such as bacterial toxins[2]. Any molecule or part of a molecule that causes an immune response by binding with an antibody or T-cell receptor is an antigen, for this reason they are important in immunisation as they can induce a highly specific adaptive immune response. This occurs because of the activation of the innate immune response which uses Antigen presenting cells (APCs), such as macrophages and dendritic cells, to activate T-cells [3]. Antigens have to be highly specific to the target antibodies due to the high numbers of antibodies that they will encounter, if not they will trigger the immune response and be destroyed, this response is always triggered for non-self antibodies [4].

References

  1. Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts and Walter (2008) Molecular Biology of The Cell, fifth edition, New York: Garland Science.
  2. MedlinePlus. (2014). Antigen. (ONLINE) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002224.htm [Accessed 20th October 2015)
  3. Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts and Walter (2008) Molecular Biology of The Cell, fifth edition, New York: Garland Science.
  4. Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts and Walter (2008) Molecular Biology of The Cell, fifth edition, New York: Garland Science.
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