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see immunityimmunity,
ability of an organism to resist disease by identifying and destroying foreign substances or organisms. Although all animals have some immune capabilities, little is known about nonmammalian immunity.
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A substance that initiates and mediates the formation of the corresponding immune body, termed antibody. Antigens can also react with formed antibodies. Antigen-antibody reactions serve as host defenses against microorganisms and other foreign bodies, or are used in laboratory tests for detecting the presence of either antigen or antibody. See Antibody, Antigen-antibody reaction

A protein immunogen (any substance capable of inducing an immune response) is usually composed of a large number of antigenic determinants. Thus, immunizing an animal with a protein results in the formation of a number of antibody molecules with different specificities. The antigenicity of a protein is determined by its sequence of amino acids as well as by its conformation. Antigens may be introduced into an animal by ingestion, inhalation, sometimes by contact with skin, or more regularly by injection into the bloodstream, skin, peritoneum, or other body part.

With a few exceptions, such as the autoantigens and the isoantigens of the blood groups, antigens produce antibody only in species other than the ones from which they are derived. All complete proteins are antigenic, as are many bacterial and other polysaccharides, some nucleic acids, and some lipids. Antigenicity may be modified or abolished by chemical treatments, including degradation or enzymatic digestion; it may be notably increased by the incorporation of antigen into oils or other adjuvants. See Isoantigen

Bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and other microorganisms are important sources of antigens. These may be proteins or polysaccharides derived from the outer surfaces of the cell (capsular antigens), from the cell interior (the somatic or O antigens), or from the flagella (the flagellar or H antigens). Other antigens either are excreted by the cell or are released into the medium during cell death and disruption; these include many enzymes and toxins, of which diphtheria, tetanus, and botulinus toxins are important examples. The presence of antibody to one of these constituent antigens in human or animal sera is presumptive evidence of past or present contact with specific microorganisms, and this finds application in clinical diagnosis and epidemiological surveys. See Botulism, Diphtheria, Toxin

Microbial antigens prepared to induce protective antibodies are termed vaccines. They may consist of either attenuated living or killed whole cells, or extracts of these. Since whole microorganisms are complex structures, vaccines may contain 10 or more distinct antigens, of which generally not more than one or two engender a protective antibody. Examples of these are smallpox vaccine, a living attenuated virus; typhoid vaccine, killed bacterial cells; and diphtheria toxoid, detoxified culture fluid. Several independent vaccines may be mixed to give a combined vaccine, and thus reduce the number of injections necessary for immunization, but such mixing can result in a lesser response to each component of the mixture. See Vaccination

Allergens are antigens that induce allergic states in humans or animals. Examples are preparations from poison ivy, cottonseed, or horse dander, or simple chemicals such as formaldehyde or picryl chloride. See Hypersensitivity, Immunology


A substance which reacts with the products of specific humoral or cellular immunity, even those induced by related heterologous immunogens.


a substance that stimulates the production of antibodies
References in periodicals archive ?
Skin endpoint titration (SET) testing, also referred to as serial dilution quantitative intradermal testing, is a modification of intradermal testing that uses specific antigen dilutions to establish the minimum amount of antigen required to produce a positive skin test.
HLA: human leukocyte antigens, which are marker molecules on the surface of cells that identify cells as "self" and prevent the immune system from attacking them.
Our studies have shown that BN rats, bred and raised on a diet free of the antigen to be tested, can be sensitized by daily dosing with the antigen via the enteral route without the use of adjuvants.
Antigen stability, safety and immunogenicity are the key hurdles for novel antigen delivery technologies.
We've deployed Antigen on many servers in different kinds of environments, and it continues to impress us.
Family 4, like family 2, is directed to cancer antigens, specifically other immunogenic portions of MUC1.
We observed that several metal ions enhanced antigen-mediated mast cell activation (Figures 3 and 5), which resulted in the release of mediators in amounts exceeding the maximum amount observed with antigen alone.
Skin testing involves the introduction of specific antigens onto or into the skin through a skin prick or an intradermal inoculation.
To do that, however, one needs to know the identity of the triggering antigen.
Virus-like particles (VLPs) in their second-generation application are constructs that can be engineered to carry foreign antigens on their surface and mimic viruses in their ability to stimulate strong immune responses, in this case against foreign antigens.
This observation could be explained by the fact that aPL found in patients with lupus and primary aPL syndrome are directed against a complex antigen that includes a lipid-binding inhibitor of coagulation, which has been characterized as a [beta]2-glycoprotein I (apolipoprotein H).
The ARI has developed a series of antibodies that bind to the tumor antigen protein associated with cancer and inhibit the survival of tumor cells as well as inducing apoptosis (a form of cell death) in tumor cells.