Antibodies are proteins made by the body's natural defense system
(immune system) to fight foreign substances, such as bacteria. Antibodies attach themselves to the foreign substance, allowing other
immune system cells to attack and destroy the substance.
The surfaces of viruses, fungi, and bacteria contain markers called
antigens. To destroy the viruses, fungi, or bacteria, the immune
system creates antibodies that are specific for each antigen.
Blood tests can detect antibodies to certain bacteria, fungi, and viruses,
such as the viruses that cause chickenpox, HIV infection, hepatitis, and
mononucleosis. Some conditions can be diagnosed by detecting antibodies in a
person's blood to the virus, fungus, or bacteria that is causing the condition.
Sometimes the body responds to its own tissue as though the tissue
was a foreign substance, creating antibodies against the tissue and triggering
reactions that cause normal cells to be destroyed. This is called an
autoimmune response or autoimmune disease.
December 30, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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