Innate Immune System with Natural Killer Cells
Conventional medicine and academics like to downplay the value of the innate immune system. Non-specific immunity on the contrary is extremely valuable precisely because it is capable of destroying all novel threats to your health.
The real miracle of your immune system is that it is normally able to tell friend from foe. Your body literally contains more bacteria than human cells. Most bacteria are friendly or beneficial to your health. Your body only has to deal with bacteria that cause tissue damage.
Contents of Innate Immunity
- Physical barriers to invasion
- Chemical message signals and antimicrobial peptides
- Phagocytosis or the cellular eating of foreign threats
- Natural killer cells (NK)
Physical barriers to invasion
Skin and mucus membranes obviously provide a line of protection against foreign invaders. You should never overlook the value of good personal hygiene that keeps your skin clean. Periodically examining every inch of your body for possible problems that should be treated such as cuts, burns, scratches and abrasions, insect bites, and fungus infestations; is always a good idea. Never ignore large burns, which may require medical treatment.
Mucus membranes are about mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT), of which there are four major sub-systems: GALT (i.e., intestines and reproductive organs), BALT (i.e., lungs), NALT (i.e., nose), and CALT (i.e., eyes). Microscopic cilia line mucous membranes that literally brush away debris. Your body has to produce about one liter of mucus every day for your mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue.
Chemical message signals and antimicrobial peptides
Your body performs much of its immune system magic with chemicals at the molecular level. Chemicals are used to sense friend from foe, to send messages to other workers in the immune system, or are used to directly kill cellular threats with chemical toxins. Chemical messengers, or what causes the chemotactic migration of cells toward them, go by many different names that essentially mean the same thing: chemotaxis, chemokines, cytokines, and interferon. There are at least 50 different kinds of cytokines in your body.
Phagocytosis or the cellular eating of foreign threats
A class of white blood cells known as phagocytes, which engulf and essentially digest their targeted victims, handles cellular threats. There are two types of phagocytes: circulating and sentinel.
Sentinel phagocytes do NOT circulate, but rather sit in place in specific types of tissue. They are the immune system’s first responders. Macrophages reside in connective tissue, or fibrous tissue such as tendons, that exist throughout your body. Dentrictic phagocytes reside in skin tissue. Mast cells are found in connective tissue.
Circulating phagocytes released into the blood stream from bone marrow require an inflammatory response. Neutrophils are the first responders that circulate to areas of your body in harms way. They produce pus, and do not survive very long. Monocytes are the second responders of this type that either clean up the mess made by the neutrophils or kill invading bacteria. Eosinophils are good at killing worm parasites.
Natural killer cells (NK)
Destroy Viruses & Cancer with Natural Killer (NK) Cells
Natural killer cells are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte that is a major component of the innate immune system.
NK-cells play a major role in the destruction of tumors, cancer, and cells infected by viruses. NK-cells release toxic proteins that cause the targeted cells to die by apoptosis. Excessive folic acid supplementation increases your risk of cancer probably by reducing NK-Cell cytotoxicity by 23%.
A virus is a microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living human cell. Viruses are parasites that need a host cell to survive. There are two types of viruses: DNA based and RNA based. DNA based viruses trick cells into manufacturing viral proteins or more viruses. These virus infected host cells eventually die, break open, and releases viruses that can infect other cells. RNA based viruses are, also, called retroviruses contains RNA as their genetic material. The RNA may be single stranded or double stranded. RNA viruses reproduce faster than DNA viruses.
Inflammation indicates that your immune system is at work, is classified as either acute or chronic.
Acute inflammation is the initial response of your body to harmful stimuli, achieved by the increased movement of plasma and leukocytes from the blood into the injured tissues. Lymphatic capillaries are normally too small for white blood cells to physically fit through. Cells of the innate immune system, such as mast phagocytes, release substances such as heparin and histamine that make capillaries leaky or porous and induce inflammation or the swelling of these capillaries with more blood fluid, which allows the phagocytes to migrate through the swollen capillaries.
When inflammation lasts too long, known as chronic inflammation, it leads to a progressive shift in the type of cells present at the site of inflammation and is characterized by simultaneous destruction and healing of body tissue from the inflammatory process. Chronic inflammation can often leads to chronic diseases, such as hay fever, atherosclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
If inflammation was not successful against the invaders, your innate immune system will respond with fever. A few types of white blood cells will release pyrogens that cause your brain's hypothalamus to raise body temperature. Fevers in the temperature range of 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38 to 39 degrees Celsius, are beneficial.
During a fever, iron levels in your blood are lowered. Bacterium reproduction rates are reduced. The production of neutrophil phagocytes are increased. While, other white blood cells will release antiviral interferon.
Fever producing acute infections have been associated with cancer regression.
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Harris Goldstein, M.D., delivers a mini-course that provides a comprehensive overview in basic immunology for graduate and medical students and for anyone interested in understanding how the immune system works.
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