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Allergy - Role Of Immune System

histamines allergic antibodies body

Some people are allergic to a wide range of allergens, while others are allergic to only a few or none. The reasons for these differences can be found in the makeup of an individual's immune system. The immune system is the body's defense against substances (antigens) that it recognizes as foreign to the body. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, produce antibodies, which play an important role in neutralizing antigens, including bacteria, viruses and toxins. Those antigens specifically producing an allergic response are known as allergens When an allergen first enters the body, the lymphocytes produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The IgE antibodies attach to mast cells, large cells that are found in connective tissue and contain histamines along with a number of other chemical substances.

Studies show that allergy sufferers produce an excessive amount of IgE, indicating a hereditary factor for their allergic responses. How individuals adjust over time to allergens in their environments also determines their degree of susceptibility to allergic disorders.

The second time any given allergen enters the body, it becomes attached to the newly-formed Y-shaped IgE antibodies. These antibodies, in turn, stimulate the mast cells to discharge its histamines and other anti-allergen substances. There are two types of histamine: H1 and H2. H1 histamines travel to receptor sites located in the nasal passages, respiratory system, and skin, dilating smaller blood vessels and constricting airways. The H2 histamines, which constrict the larger blood vessels, travel to the receptor sites found in the salivary and tear glands and in the stomach's mucosal lining. H2 histamines play a role in stimulating the release of stomach acid, thus creating a seasonal stomach ulcer condition.


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