Polley, Margaret J. Formerly, Department of Medicine, Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York.
Cohen, Zoë Department of Blood Transfusion Medicine Research, Saint Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Classes of antigens
- Antibody response
- Sources of antigens
- Use in vaccines
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Any substance that causes the immune system to produce specific antibodies or T cells against it. An antigen may be a foreign substance from the environment (such as chemicals, bacterial or viral proteins, or pollen) or formed within the host's own body. Reactions of antigens with antibodies or T cells serve as a defense against microorganisms and other foreign bodies, but can be detrimental if the immune response is mounted against the “self,” as in autoimmune disorders. Antigen-antibody complexes are used in laboratory tests for detecting the presence of either antigen or antibody to determine a subject's previous exposure to pathogens. See also: Antibody; Antigen-antibody reaction
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