Rare disease that attacks immune system

t-cellsReference:

Kim Ann Zimmermann, LiveScience Contributor | January 24, 2013 06:53pm ET

The job of the immune system — which is a collection of structures and processes within the body — is to protect against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, and distinguishes them from the body’s own healthy tissue.

The major components of the immune system include:

Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease and are part of the lymphatic system — which consists of bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes also contain lymph, the clear fluid that carries those cells to different parts of the body. When the body is fighting infection, lymph nodes can become enlarged and feel sore.

Spleen: The largest lymphatic organ in the body contains white blood cells that fight infection or disease. The spleen also helps control the amount of blood in the body and disposes of old or damaged blood cells.

Bone Marrow: The yellow tissue in the center the bones produces white blood cells.

Lymphocytes: These small white blood cells play a large role in defending the body against disease. The two types of lymphocytes are B-cells, which make antibodies that attack bacteria and toxins, and T-cells, which help destroy infected or cancerous cells. Killer T-cells are a sub-group of T-cells that kill cells that are infected with viruses and other pathogens or are otherwise damaged. Helper T-cells help determine which immune responses the body makes to a particular pathogen.

Thymus: This small organ is where T-cells mature.

Leukocytes: These white blood cells that identify and eliminate pathogens are the second arm of the innate immune system. The innate leukocytes include the phagocytes (macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells), mast cells, eosinophils, basophils, and natural killer cells.

Diseases of the immune system

Disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is not as strong as normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections. In humans, immunodeficiency can either be the result of a genetic disease such as severe combined immunodeficiency, acquired conditions such as HIV/AIDS, or through the use of immunosuppressive medication.

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Popular Q&A

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What is an example of a disease that attacks the human immune system

There are many diseases that destroy the immune system. The most widely-spread immune disease is the AIDS virus affecting huge populations in third world countries especially in the continent of Africa.

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