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Glossary

Absolute Neutrophil Count
A measure of the actual number of neutrophils present in the blood per unit volume.
Active Immunity
Immunity produced by the body in response to stimulation by a disease-causing organism or a vaccine.
Allergen
Any substance that causes an allergic reaction.
Allergy
An inappropriate and harmful response of the immune system to normally harmless substances.
Anagen
One of the two phases of hair growth. (The other is the telegen phase). The anagen phase is the active growing phase.
Anaphylactic Shock
A life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by a swelling of body tissues including the throat, difficulty in breathing, and a sudden fall in blood pressure.
Anemia
Any condition involving a decrease in the hemoglobin level of the blood below normal.
Anergy
A state of unresponsiveness, induced when the T cell’s antigen receptor is stimulated, that effectively freezes T cell responses pending a “second signal” from the antigen-presenting cell.
Angiogenesis
The growth of new blood vessels aiming to feed a tumor.
Anogenital
The anal and genital regions.
Antibodies
Immune system-related proteins called “immunoglobulins” Each antibody consists of four polypeptides: two heavy chains and two light chains joined to form a “Y” shaped molecule. Antibodies are divided into five major classes, IgM, IgG, IgA, IgD, and IgE, based on their structure and immune function.
Antibody
A protein produced by the body’s immune system to fight infection or harmful foreign substances (antigens).
Antibody-Dependent Cell-Mediated Cytotoxicity (ADCC)
An immune response in which antibody, by coating target cells, makes them vulnerable to attack by immune cells.
Antigen
A foreign substance in the body, usually a protein, that can stimulate the body to produce antibodies, an immune reaction.
Angiogenic Factors
Factors that are critical to the initiation of angiogenesis and maintenance of the vascular network.
Antigen-Presenting Cells
B cells, cells of the monocyte lineage (including macrophages, as well as dendritic cells), and various other body cells that “present” antigen in a form that T cells can recognize.
Antioxidant
a substance (as beta-carotene or vitamin C) that inhibits oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals
Apoptotic Cells
Cells undergoing the programmed cell death.
Aplastic
Involving the absence or defective development of a tissue or organ.
Aquaculture
Farming of freshwater and saltwater organisms including fish, mollusks and plants. Unlike fishing, aquaculture, also known as “aqua farming” implies the cultivation of aquatic populations under controlled conditions.
Attenuated
Weakened; no longer infectious.
Autoimmune Disease
A disease that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are autoimmune diseases.
Axillae
Underarm or armpit.
B-Cells
Small white blood cells crucial to the immune defenses. Also known as B lymphocytes, they are derived from bone marrow and develop into plasma cells that are the source of antibodies.
Band
A young neutrophil.
Biological Response Modifiers
Substances, either natural or synthesized, that boost, direct, or restore normal immune defenses. BRMs include interferons, interleukins, thymus hormones, and monoclonal antibodies.
Blast Cells
Immature cells that mature into various blood cells.
Bone Marrow
Soft tissue occupying the inner cavities of bones responsible for blood cell production.
BRM
Biological response modifiers.
Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates, or saccharides, are sugars and starches, which provide energy for humans and animals, and cellulose, which make up many plant structures. Generally, there are two types of carbohydrates: simple, or monosaccharides and complex, or polysaccharides.
Carcinogen
A substance that is capable of causing or aggravating cancer in humans or animals. Though a great many things exist that are believed to cause cancer, a substance is only considered carcinogenic if there is significant evidence of its carcinogenicity.
Catabolize
To break down complex chemical compounds into simpler ones.
Cellular branch
The immune system consists of two branches: the cellular branch and the humoral one. The cellular branch (also called “cellular immunity” or “cell-mediated immunity”) involves the activation of the macrophages, natural killer cells, antigen-specific T-lymphocytes, and the release of various cytokines.
Cellular Immunity
Immune protection provided by the direct action of immune cells (as distinct from soluble molecules such as antibodies).
Chemotherapy
A general term for any treatment involving the use of chemical agents (including drugs) to stop cancer cells from growing. Chemotherapy can eliminate cancer cells at sites that are far from the original cancer. As a result, chemotherapy is considered a systemic treatment. Usually, chemotherapy is accompanied with significant negative side effects.
Complement
A complicated system of proteins in normal blood serum and plasma that in combination with antibodies causes the destruction especially of particulate antigens (as bacteria and foreign blood corpuscles).
Complement
The thermolabile group of proteins in the blood serum and plasma of humans and animals that (in combination with antibodies) causes the destruction especially of particulate antigens, bacteria and cells. The complement system is a biochemical cascade that helps clear pathogens from an organism. The whole system consists of a number of small proteins found in the blood, normally circulating as inactive precursors.
When stimulated, enzymes in the system cleave specific proteins to release different factors and initiate an amplifying cascade of further cleavages.
The end-result of this activation cascade is a massive amplification of the response and activation of the cell-killing membrane attack complex. The complement system consists of over 20 proteins and protein fragments.
Constant Region
That part of an antibody’s structure that is characteristic for each antibody class.
Corticosterone
Steroid hormone secreted by the outer layer of the adrenal gland.
Classed as a glucocorticoid, this hormone helps regulate the conversion of amino acids into carbohydrates and glycogen by the liver, and helps stimulate glycogen formation in the tissues. Corticosterone is similar in structure to the other glucocorticoids cortisol and cortisone. It is produced in response to the stimulation by the pituitary substance ACTH.Co-stimulation
The delivery of a second signal from an antigen-presenting cell to a T cell. The second signal rescues the activated T cell from anergy, allowing it to produce the lymphokines necessary for the growth of additional T cells.
CR3
A receptor of the complement system, a part of the mediated innate immune system. This receptor, referred to as “complement receptor 3”, or “CR3”, is present on granulocytes, mononuclear phagocytes, and 94 natural killer (NK) cells and binds an iC3b fragment of complement.
This CR3 family of receptors is very important for cell adhesion and cell mediated cytotoxicity. It is involved in the binding of Glucan molecule.
Cytokine
Small secreted proteins, which mediate and regulate immunity, inflammation, and hematopoiesis. They are produced in response to an immune stimulus. They generally act over short distances and short time spans and at very low concentration. They act by binding to specific membrane receptors, which then signal the cell to alter its behavior. Responses to cytokines include the increasing or decreasing expression of membrane proteins, the proliferation, and secretion of various effector molecules.
“Cytokine” is a general name; other names include “lymphokine” (cytokines made by lymphocytes), “monokine” (cytokines made by monocytes), “chemokine” (cytokines with chemotactic activities), and “interleukin” (cytokines made by one leukocyte and acting on other leukocytes).
Cytopenia
A deficiency of cells in the blood.
Cytotoxic
Destructive to cells.
Cytotoxic T Cells
A subset of T lymphocytes that can kill body cells infected by viruses or transformed by cancer.
Dectin-1
This is the second major receptor for Glucan on the surface of macrophages and neutrophils. Similarly to CR3, it mediates the transfer of the signal.
Dendritic Cells
These cells are potent antigen-presenting cells possessing the ability to stimulate naïve T lymphocytes. They comprise a system of leukocytes 95 widely distributed in all tissues. Dendritic cells, often called “pacemakers of the immune reactions”, possess a heterogeneous haemopoietic lineage, in that subsets from different tissues have been shown to possess a differential morphology, phenotype and function.
Deleterious
harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way.
Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes remains unclear, although both genetics and environmental factors (such as obesity) appear to play important roles.
Diapedesis
Movement of leukocytes out of the circulatory system, toward the site of tissue damage or infection, via squeezing through the wall of veins and arteries.
Differentiate
To develop into a different (usually more mature, and vspecialized) characteristic or function than the original.
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known organisms.
Enzyme
A protein that acts as a catalyst to induce chemical changes in other substances.
Eccrine Sweat Gland
Sweat gland located in the dermis. Helps regulate body temperature by manufacturing and excreting sweat onto the skin surface.
Epitope
A unique shape or marker carried on an antigen’s surface, which triggers a corresponding antibody response.
Erythrocyte
A mature red blood cell.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
Fatty acids that are required in the human diet because human cells can’t produce them internally. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are EFA’s.
FAB Criteria
Criteria used for classifying leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes which were developed and agreed upon by a group of French, American and British scientists.
Febrile
Feverish; involving an elevated body temperature.
Folic acid
A vitamin of the B complex group essential for cell growth and reproduction.
Fungus
Member of a class of relatively primitive vegetable organisms. Fungi include mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, molds, and smuts.
GALT
Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue. Consists of various tissues and organs, such as tonsils, Peyer’s patches in the gut or lymphoid aggregates.
Gene
A unit of genetic material (DNA) that carries the directions a cell uses to perform a specific function, such as making a given protein.
Granulocyte
One of the three types of white blood cells (the others being monocytes and lymphocytes), so called because they have granules that contain enzymes that help fight infection.
Helper T Cells
A subset of T cells that typically carry the T4 marker and are essential for turning on antibody production, activating cytotoxic T cells, and initiating many other immune responses.
Hematocrit
The percentage of a volume of blood occupied by red blood cells.
Hematopoiesis
The formation and development of blood cells, usually taking place in the bone marrow.
Hemochromatosis
An excess of iron deposits in the body, also known as ” iron overload.”
Hemoglobin
The red blood cell protein-iron compound responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the cells, and carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs.
Hemolysis
Destruction of red cells in the blood stream.
Hemolytic Anemia
A disorder characterized by chronic premature destruction of red blood cells.
Immune System
The immune system is a vast network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders.
It is the immune system’s job to keep them out or, failing that, to seek out and kill them. The immune system is amazingly complex. It can recognize and remember millions of different enemies and it can produce secretions (antibodies, cytokines) and cells to match up with and wipe out nearly all of them. If the immune system is crippled, it leaves the body vulnerable to illnesses.
Humoral Branch
The second part of the immune response.
Effector B lymphocytes produce soluble antibodies, which circulate throughout the body and function to eliminate antigens from the organism. This branch of the immune system is known as the “humoral branch” or “humoral immunity”.
Memory B lymphocytes function to recognize the antigen in future encounters by continuing to express the membrane-bound form of the antibody.
Humoral Immunity
Immune protection provided by soluble factors such as antibodies, which circulate in the body’s fluids or “humors”, primarily serum and lymph.
Hybridoma
A hybrid cell created by fusing a B lymphocyte with a long-lived neoplastic plasma cell, or a T lymphocyte with a lymphoma cell. A B-cell hybridoma secretes a single specific antibody.
Hyperglycemia
Excess of sugar in the blood.
Hyperplastic
Involving an increased number of cells.
Hypersensitivity
An abnormal sensitivity to a stimulus.
Hypoplastic
Involving a decreased number of cells.
Idiopathic
Usually refers to any condition with no known cause.
Idiotypes
The unique and characteristic parts of an antibody’s variable region, which can themselves serve as antigens.
Immune Complex
A cluster of interlocking antigens and antibodies.
Immunocompetent
Capable of developing an immune response.
Immunocyte
A cell of the lymphoid lineage which can react with antigens to produce antibodies (B lymphocytes) or to become active in cell-mediated immunity or delayed hypersensitivity reactions; also called “immunologically competent cell” or “immunocompetent cell”.
Immunoglobulin
The general term used for antibodies. Depending on their structure, immunoglobulins (Ig) can be divided into IgM, IgG, IgA, IgD and IgE.
Immunomodulation
The change in the body’s immune system (either positive or negative), caused by agents that activate (immunoactivation) or suppress (immunosuppression) its function.
Immunosuppression
Negative adjustment of the immune response.
Indomethacin
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to reduce fever, pain, and swelling. It works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are molecules known to cause these symptoms.
Inflammatory Response
Redness, warmth, swelling, pain, and loss of function produced in response to infection, as the result of increased blood flow and an influx of immune cells and secretions.
Insulin
a protein pancreatic hormone secreted by the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans that is essential especially for the metabolism of carbohydrates and the regulation of glucose levels in the blood and that when insufficiently produced results in diabetes mellitus
Interleukin
Protein of a group of related proteins made by white blood cells and other cells in the body. Interleukins regulate immune responses.
Iron Chelator
A substance which binds iron and then eliminates it from the body in the urine and stool.
kDa
A term used for describing the mass of individual molecules. With large molecules, masses are in kilodaltons (kDa), where one kilodalton is 1000 daltons. The precise definition is that it is one twelfth of the mass of an unbound atom of carbon-12 at rest.
Kupffer Cells
The resident macrophages of the liver that play an important role in its normal physiology and homeostasis as well as participating in the acute and chronic responses of the liver to toxic compounds. Activation of these cells by toxic agents results in the release of an array of bioactive substances. This activation appears to modulate acute hepatocyte injury as well as chronic liver diseases including hepatic cancer.
Lactosylceramide
Glycoprotein containing a hydrophobic ceramide lipid and hydrophilic sacharidic moieties.
Langerhans Cells
Cells of the macrophage lineage, found in the skin. These cells were named after the German physician Paul Langerhans, who first described them. They are involved in various skin infections.
Leukopenia
A low white blood cell count is a decrease in leukocytes circulating in your blood. The benchmark for a low white blood cell count varies slightly among medical practices. In adults it is generally defined as fewer than 3,500 white blood cells per microliter of blood. A low white blood cell count in children varies with age and sex.
There are several subtypes of white blood cells, each with different defense activities. If you have a low white blood cell count, you most likely have a decrease in only one type. Leukopenia is often the result of a chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
LPS
Lipopolysaccharide is the major component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The LPS molecule is composed of two biosynthetic entities: the lipid A
core and the O-polysaccharide. Most of the biological effects of LPS are due to the lipid A part. LPS is an exogenous pyrogen (i.e., external fever-inducing compound). LPS also induces strong immune responses, and larger doses can be lethal.
Lymph
A clear, transparent filtrate of plasma that is collected from tissues throughout the body and eventually flows to the lymphatic system.
Lymphocyte
A type of immune cell that is made in the bone marrow and is found in the blood and in all the lymph tissues. The two main types of lymphocytes are B-Lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes.
B-lymphocytes make antibodies; T-lymphocytes help control immune responses and are involved in the killing of tumor cells.
Lymphatic System
An important aspect of the body’s immune system, consisting of vessels that carry lymph fluid from tissues throughout the body through the lymph nodes to the venous blood circulation.
Lymphocyte
One of the three types of white blood cells (the others being granulocytes and monocytes), and the primary cell of the immune response, responsible for attacking antigens; divided into two forms, B cells and T cells.
Lymph Nodes
Small bean-shaped organs of the immune system, distributed widely throughout the body and linked by lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are garrisons of B, T, and other immune cells.
Lymphokines
Powerful chemical substances secreted by lymphocytes. These soluble molecules help direct and regulate the immune responses.
Macrophage
Cells of the myeloid lineage. Present in almost every tissue and organ.
Their major function is to monitor the circulating streams of body fluid (blood and lymph) and to react adequately to any changes. Their most pronounced function is phagocytosis, which is one of the most important defense mechanisms (i.e, destruction of invaders by ingestion).
Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC)
A group of genes that controls several aspects of the Immune response. MHC genes code for self markers on all body cells.
Mannan
Polymer of mannose.
Mast cell
A granule-containing cell found in tissue. The contents of mast cells, along with those of basophils, are responsible for the symptoms of allergy.
Megaloblast
An abnormally large immature erythrocyte that develops in large numbers in the bone marrow.
Monocyte
One of the three types of white blood cells (the others being granulocytes and lymphocytes), normally constituting 3-7% of the blood.
Monoclonal Antibodies
Antibodies produced by a single cell or its identical progeny, specific for a given antigen. As a tool for binding to specific protein molecules, monoclonal antibodies are invaluable in research, medicine and industry.
Monocyte
A large phagocytic white blood cell which, when it enters tissue, develops into a macrophage.
Monokines
Powerful chemical substances secreted by monocytes and macrophages. These soluble molecules help direct and regulate the immune responses.
Morphology
The study of the structure and form of an organism.
Mitogen
An agent that stimulates cell division and lymphocyte transformation.
mRNA
Messenger Ribonucleic Acid is a molecule of RNA encoding a chemical blueprint for individual proteins.
Myelopoiesi
The production of myeloid cells in the bone marrow. It might involve the production of all or some cells of the erythroid, megakaryotic or myelocytic lineage.
Natural Killer (NK) Cells
Large granule-filled lymphocytes that take on tumor cells and infected body cells. They are known as “natural” killers because they attack without first having to recognize specific antigens.
Neutropenia
A deficiency of neutrophils in the blood.
Neutrophil
A type of white blood cells or leukocytes, which form an early line of defense against bacterial infections.
Neutrophils represent the largest part of the leukocytes, and are produced In high numbers in response to infection, trauma, stress or other 100 stimuli. They circulate around the blood, waiting to be called to a site where damage is happening. Once there, they kill the invading bacteria and other noxious substances. The method they use to kill invaders starts with phagocytosis and is followed by the release of various highly toxic substances such as hydrolytic enzymes of peroxidases. Neutrophils are very short lived, lasting anything from a few hours to a few days.
NK Cell
Natural killer (NK) cells represent a small population of the T lymphocytes.
They examine other cells for the presence of certain molecules that identify the cell as a cancerous cell or a virus-infected cell. If such a cell is found, the NK cell deploys a tentacle with venom sacks and attaches to the suspect cell. An injection of venom follows, resulting in the death of the target cell.
NOAEL
No Observed Adverse Effect Level.
It denotes the level of exposure, determined by experiment, at which there is no biologically or statistically significant increase (e.g. alteration of morphology, functional capacity, development or life span) in the frequency or severity of any adverse effects in the exposed population when compared to its appropriate controls.
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Also known as “NHL” or sometimes just “lymphoma”, is a cancer that starts in the cells of the lymph system, which is part of the body’s 101 immune system. There are two main types of lymphomas– “Hodgkin lymphoma” (also known as “Hodgkin’s disease”) and “non- Hodgkin lymphomas”.
Opportunistic Infection
An infection in an immunosuppressed person caused by an organism that does not usually trouble people with health immune systems.
Opsonize
To coat an organism with antibodies or a complement protein so as to make it palatable to phagocytes.
Pancreas
a large lobulated gland of vertebrates that secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon
Pancytopenia
A deficiency of all types of blood cells.
Parasite
A plant or animal that lives, grows, and feeds on or within another living organism.
Parenteral
When a substance is given by routes other than via the digestive tract (intro-peritoneally, sub-cutaneously, etc.).s
Passive Immunity
Immunity resulting from the transfer of antibodies or antiserum produced by another individual.
Petechiae
Pinpoint hemorrhagic spots in the skin.
Peyer’s Patch
The group of Peyer’s glands on the inner wall of the small intestine. It usually has an elongated shape and its function is related to the immune system. It plays an important role in the transfer of biologically active molecules through the intestinal wall.
Phagocytosis
Originally the means by which larger materials move into the cells.
Probably one of the most widely occurring cellular functions. The process originally served in the normal feeding cycle of unicellular animals, later it acquired a new reason. The term came from Greek “phagein” meaning “to eat” and is used to describe the intake of solid particles such as red blood cells or bacteria. This process represents an extremely important part of cellular defense mechanisms.
Placebo
A pharmacologically inert substance (such as starch or glucose tablet) that produces an effect similar to what would be expected of a pharmacologically active substance. The placebo effect is the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to a medication or treatment that has been administered.
Phagocytes
Large white blood cells that contribute to the immune defenses by ingesting microbes or other cells and foreign particles.
Phagocytize
To engulf and destroy dangerous microorganisms or cells, a function performed by certain white blood cells.
Plasma
The fluid (noncellular) portion of the circulating blood.
Plasma Cells
Lazge antibody-producing cells that develop from B cells.
Platelet
The smallest cells in the blood, essential for blood clotting.
Pluripotent Cell
Primordial cells that may still differentiate into various specialized types of tissue elements.
Poly
A mature neutrophil.
Polysaccharide
Complex saccharides. Polymers made up of many monosaccharides (simple saccharides) joined together by glycosidic bonds.
Prophylactic Treatment
Treatment designed and used to prevent a particular disease from occurring.
Postprandial
Occurring after a meal.
Proliferation
Growth by reproduction of similar cells.
Proteins
Organic compounds made up of amino acids. Proteins are one of the major constituents of plant and animal cells.
Protozoa
A group of one-celled animals, a few of which cause human disease (including malaria and sleeping sickness).
Receptor
Protein molecule, embedded in either the cytoplasm or plasma membrane of a cell, to, which a signal molecule will bind. A molecule, which binds to a receptor is called a ligand.
When such binding occurs, the receptor undergoes a conformational change usually resulting in a cellular response.
Reticulocyte
An immature red blood cell.
Reticulocyte Count
The number of reticulocytes usually expressed as the percent of red blood cells.
Rheumatoid Factor
An autoantibody found in the serum of most persons with rheumatoid arthritis.
RNA (Ribonucleic Acid)
A nucleic acid that is found in the cytoplasm and also in the nucleus of some cells. One function of RNA is to direct the synthesis of proteins.
Sepsis
A condition in which the body is fighting a severe infection that has spread via the bloodstream. Sepsis is a serious infection usually caused by bacteria — which can originate in many body parts, such as the lungs, intestines, urinary tract, or skin — that make toxins causing the immune system to attack the body’s own organs and tissues.
Serum
The clear liquid that separates from the blood when it is allowed to clot. This fluid retains any antibodies that were present in the whole blood.
Stem Cells
Cells that give rise to any of the different blood cells.
Subcutaneous
Beneath the skin.
Synthesis
A building up, putting together, or composition.
Suppressor T cells
A subset of T cells that turn off antibody production and other immune responses.
T-cells
Small white blood cells that orchestrate and/or directly participate in the immune defenses. Also known as T lymphocytes, they are processed in the thymus and secrete lymphokines.
Thimerasol
A mercury-containing organic compound.
Since the 1930s, it has been widely used as a preservative in a number of products, including many vaccines, to help prevent potentially life threatening contamination with harmful microbes. Because of potential toxicity, Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children of 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine.
T-lymphocyte
A lymphocyte that is important in the immune response, but which in aplastic anemia suppresses the stem cells; also known as a T cell lymphocyte.
Thrombocyte
Platelet.
Thrombocytopenia
A deficiency in the number of platelets.
Thrombosis
Abnormal blood clots.
Thymus
A primary lymphoid organ, high in the chest, where T lymphocytes proliferate and mature.
Tocopherol
any of several fat-soluble oily phenolic compounds with varying degrees of antioxidant vitamin E activity
Transferrin
A protein that binds iron and thus regulates iron absorption and transports iron in the body.
Vaccine
A substance that contains antigenic components from an infectious organism. By stimulating an immune response (but not disease), it protects against subsequent infection by that organism.
Virus
Genetic entities that lie somewhere in the grey area between living and non-living states. Viruses depend on the host cells that they infect to reproduce. When found outside of host cells, viruses exist as a protein coat, sometimes enclosed within a membrane. The coat encloses either DNA or RNA, which codes for the virus elements. While in this form outside the cell, the virus is metabolically inert.
Zymosan
An insoluble mannose-rich cell wall polysaccharide of yeast. Besides being a potent activator of macrophages, zymosan also induces the release of cytokines from neutrophils and pro-inflammatory cytokines in immune cells.